Oil prices rise amid Saudi tensions, but demand outlook drags

Brent crude had risen 98 cents, or 1.22 percent, to 81.41 a barrel by 0124 GMT, on track for its biggest daily gain since Oct. 9

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BEIJING: Crude oil futures rose sharply on Monday as geopolitical tensions over the disappearance of a prominent Saudi journalist stoked worries about supply, although concerns about the long-term outlook for demand dragged on prices.

Crude markets were also supported in the wake of data that showed South Korea did not import any oil from Iran in September for the first time in six years before U.S. sanctions against the Middle East country take effect in November.

Brent crude had risen 98 cents, or 1.22 percent, to 81.41 a barrel by 0124 GMT, on track for its biggest daily gain since Oct. 9.

U.S. crude futures climbed 80 cents, or 1.12 percent, to $72.15 a barrel, extending gains they racked up on Friday after hefty losses on Wednesday and Thursday.

Saudi Arabia has been under pressure since Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Riyadh and a U.S. resident, disappeared on Oct. 2 after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The kingdom would retaliate against possible economic sanctions taken by other states over the case, its state news agency SPA reported on Sunday quoting an official source.

Meanwhile, South Korea stopped importing Iranian oil for the first time in years.

Putting downward pressure on oil prices, the International Energy Agency, the West’s energy watchdog, said in its monthly report that the market looked “adequately supplied for now” and trimmed its forecasts for world oil demand growth this year and next.

That comes after the secretary general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) last week said the group sees the oil market as well supplied and that it was wary of creating a glut next year.