U.S. crude oil rallied towards the close but still ended lower for a second straight session on Monday, amid renewed expectations of a nuclear deal with Iran which could see easing of sanctions against Tehran.
Sanctions against Iranian oil may be lifted if Tehran reaches an agreement with the West on some long-anticipated inspections. The deadline for such a deal is supposedly Tuesday. Any easing of sanctions could see a further glut in the already oversupplied market, despite ongoing geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. In the event Iran fails to conclude an agreement with the West, oil prices may likely bounce back once again.
Tensions in the Middle East centered around the turmoil in Yemen persist, but a massive glut of U.S. inventories have helped last week’s rally to fizzle out. Analysts also believe the fighting in Yemen is highly unlikely to disrupt oil shipments from the region, since most of the fighting is taking place far away from the shipping route areas.
Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for May delivery, the most actively traded contract, dipped $0.19 or 0.4 percent to settle at $48.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Monday.
Crude prices for May delivery scaled a high of $49.16 a barrel intraday and a low of $47.61.
On Friday, U.S. crude futures for May delivery slumped $2.56 or 5.0 percent to settle at $48.87 a barrel, on speculation that concerns over the Yemen military operations may be overdone. Crude oil prices surged during the week amid concerns of disruption in oil shipment from the Middle East after Saudi Arabia launched air strikes on Yemen.
The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. unit against six major currencies, traded at 97.95 on Monday, up from its previous close of 97.36 on Friday in late North American trade. The dollar scaled a high of 98.07 intraday and a low of 97.42.
The euro trended lower against the dollar at $1.0827 on Monday, as compared to its previous close of $1.0890 in North American trade late Friday. The euro scaled a high of $1.0890 intraday and a low of $1.0811.
In economic news, personal income in the U.S. increased slightly more than expected in February, a Commerce Department report showed Monday, while personal spending is indicated to have risen less than anticipated. Personal income climbed 0.4 percent in February, matching the upwardly revised increase seen in January. Economists expected income to rise by 0.3 percent, which would have matched the growth originally reported for the previous month.
Meanwhile, the report also showed that personal spending inched up 0.1 percent in February after dipping 0.2 percent in January. Spending had been expected to edge up by 0.2 percent.
Pending home sales in the U.S. increased much more than expected in February, with pending sales jumping to their highest level in twenty months, a report from the National Association of Realtors showed Monday. NAR’s pending home sales index surged 3.1 percent to 106.9 in February after climbing 1.2 percent to a slightly downwardly revised 103.7 in January. Economists expected the index to edge up by 0.3 percent.
Elsewhere, eurozone economic sentiment rose for the fourth successive month to its highest level in nearly four years as lower oil prices, weak euro and measures of the central bank boosted confidence among firms and consumers, a survey by the European Commission showed Monday. The economic sentiment index climbed to 103.9 from 102.3 in February, which was revised from 102.1. Economists expected a score of 103. This was the strongest reading since July 2011, when it was 104.
Germany’s consumer prices increased for the second straight month in March, preliminary data from the statistical office Destatis showed Monday. Consumer prices rose 0.3 percent from last year after increasing 0.1 percent in February. The annual increase came in line with expectations.
The U.K. mortgage approvals rose to a 6-month high in February, the Bank of England reported Monday. The number of mortgages approved for house purchases rose to 61,760 in February from 60,707 in January. This was the highest since August and above the expected level of 61,000.
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