Oil prices hold firm amid confusion over status of Gaza cease-fire proposal

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Palestinians, including children, collect usable belongings in the heavily damaged buildings after Israeli attacks in Rafah, Gaza on February 12, 2024. Building targeted in the Israeli attacks and surrounding structures were damaged as Israel’s air, land and sea attacks continue on the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Jehad Alshrafi/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Jehad Alshrafi | Anadolu | Getty Images

U.S. oil rose Monday, trying to recover from last week’s steep declines, after Israel told Palestinians to evacuate the southern Gaza city of Rafah, and Saudi Aramco raised its official crude prices.

Here are today’s energy prices:

  • West Texas Intermediate June contract: $78.88 a barrel, up 77 cents, or 1%. Year to date, U.S. crude oil has gained 10%.
  • Brent July contract: $83.66 a barrel, up 70 cents, or 0.83%. Year to date, the global benchmark has risen 8.5%.
  • RBOB Gasoline June contract: $2.56 per gallon, up 0.27%. Year to date, gasoline futures have risen about 22%.
  • Natural Gas June contract: $2.18 per thousand cubic feet, up 1.63%. Year to date, gas has fallen about 13.4%.

Oil fell more than 6% last week, as traders rolled back geopolitical risk premium on fears of war between Iran and Israel, and as crude inventories in the U.S. surged on weaker demand.

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WTI vs. Brent

But tensions in the Middle East are rising again after the Israel Defense Forces told some 100,000 Palestinians to leave the southern Gaza city of Rafah. Efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas have stalled again, with the two sides accusing each other of sabotaging a deal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday vowed that Israel would not submit to international pressure to end the war in Gaza until Hamas is defeated.

“If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone,” Netanyahu said in a speech commemorating the Holocaust at Yad Vashem. “And I say to you, we will defeat our genocidal enemies. Never again is now.”

And Saudi Arabia raised the prices of its flagship crude destined for Asia for the third consecutive month, according to price list seen by Bloomberg News. The price hike suggests Riyadh sees robust demand on the horizon.