Oil prices ease on possible Gaza ceasefire, dollar strength

NNA – Oil prices slipped on Friday on the possibility of a nearing Gaza ceasefire that could ease geopolitical concerns in the Middle East, while a stronger dollar and faltering US gasoline demand also weighed on prices, according to Reuters.

Brent crude futures fell 42 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $85.36 a barrel by 5:03 a.m. Saudi time. US crude futures shed 40 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $80.67 per barrel.

Both contracts are set to end the week little changed after rising more than 3 percent last week.

Oil was trading lower on reports of a UN draft resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and as another round of profit-taking kicked in, IG analyst Tony Sycamore said in a note.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday he believed talks in Qatar could reach a Gaza ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, easing geopolitical risks in the region.

Blinken met Arab foreign ministers and Egyptrsquo;s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo as negotiators in Qatar centered on a truce of about six weeks.

In the US, the worldrsquo;s top oil consumer, gasoline product supplied, a proxy for demand, slipped below 9 million barrels for the first time in three weeks, indicating a possible slowdown in crude demand.

But consultancy FGE said preliminary weekly data for the first half of March that showed on-land crude and main product stocks at major oil hubs globally falling by almost 12 million barrels, compared with the 2015 to 2019 average draw of 6 million barrels, could be bullish for oil.

Meanwhile, the US dollar, which trades inversely with oil prices, strengthened after the Swiss National Bankrsquo;s surprise interest rate cut bolstered global risk sentiment.

A stronger dollar makes oil more expensive for investors holding other currencies, dampening demand.–agenciesnbsp;