YEREVAN, September 5. /ARKA/. Oil futures declined Wednesday as Congress debated a military strike against Syria, pushing aside fears about crude supply disruptions in the Middle East.
Crude prices weakened midday amid news that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee called for a delay in its vote on a draft resolution of force in Syria amid opposition fr om some key lawmakers.
The Senate panel, though, later approved the resolution in a 10-7 vote.
Light, sweet crude for October delivery settled down $1.31, or 1.2%, to $107.23 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, posting its largest one-day dollar and percentage decline in more than two weeks.
Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange declined 77 cents, or 0.7%, to $114.91 a barrel.
Traders sent oil futures down, believing that the back and forth in Washington likely means military intervention in Syria could still be some time away. Market observers say President Barack Obama's decision last weekend to seek congressional approval has pushed back the timetable for any strike.
The oil market "isn't going to get immediate action," said Gene McGillian, an analyst and broker at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Conn.
The crisis in Syria gave oil prices a boost early last week as traders worried that any military action could spill over to other crude-rich nations, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, in the region, wh ere roughly one-third of the world's oil is produced. Syria isn't a major oil producer, but it's close in proximity to major sea routes and pipelines in the Persian Gulf, which transport millions of barrels of crude and refined products daily.
After climbing to more than $110 a barrel, U.S. crude futures have pulled back, declining in three of the past four trading sessions as the timing for any intervention has been pushed out.
Market participants are also watching for the latest crude inventory data from the U.S. Department of Energy, expected at 11:00 a.m. EDT Thursday. Analysts polled by The Wall Street Journal expect stockpiles to have fallen by 200,000 barrels, on average, in the week ended Aug. 30.
Meanwhile, Front-month October reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, settled down 0.03 cent at $2.8643 a gallon. October heating oil settled down 1.12 cents, or 0.4%, to $3.1371 a gallon. –0—