TOKYO (Reuters) – The oil price slipped on Friday in quiet trading after three-day gains. Saudi Arabia stopped crude oil transportation through an important shipping lane, US inventories fell and eased trade tensions between Washington and Europe.
FILE PHOTO: An oil tanker is seen at sunset in front of the Fos Lavera oil port near Marseille, France, on October 5, 201
Brent-LCOc1 futures fell 22 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $ 74.32 a barrel at 0236 GMT, after a gain of 0.8 percent on Thursday.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate CLc1 futures were 7 cents lower, at $ 69.54, after posting a gain of nearly 0.5 percent in the previous session.
Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, noted that trading volumes were about one-quarter of the daily average and there was little news to drive the market. "We look forward to the inventory numbers next week," he said.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, the EU's executive body, signed a surprise agreement on Wednesday that ended the danger of an immediate trade war between the two powers.
A trade war would likely affect the demand for commodities such as oil, which is used extensively in shipping, construction and other industries.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia said it had "temporarily stopped" oil deliveries through the Bab al-Mandeb ship route on the Red Sea following an attack by the Iranian-oriented Houthi movement in Yemen.
Any measure to block Bab al-Mandeb between the shores of Yemen and Africa at the southern end of the Red Sea would virtually stop oil supplies through the Egyptian Suez Canal and the SUMED crude oil pipeline connecting the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.
An estimated 4.8 million barrels of crude oil and refined products per day flowed through Bab al-Mandeb Road toward Europe, the United States and Asia in 2016, according to the US Energy Information Administration. However, Saudi Arabia has transported the Petroline, also known as the East-West pipeline, which exports mainly crude oil from fields in the east to Yanbu. This could offset a bottleneck caused by Bab al-Mandeb's closure.
Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Edited by Joseph Radford and Kenneth Maxwell