The price of oil here increased slightly as investors opted for caution in light of the volatile situation in the Middle East.
The price of a barrel of benchmark light sweet crude for December delivery rose 17 cents to $32.71 a barrel, after closing down 71 cents Thursday at $32.54.
In London, the Brent benchmark North Sea crude fell to $30.52 a barrel from $30.78 Thursday, as a lull in Middle East violence persuaded investors that the threat to oil supplies from the region had diminished.
A month of violence between Israel and Palestinians sent oil prices spiraling above $37 a barrel in recent weeks, amid fears Arab nations could use their important oil exports as a political tool to support the Palestinians.
The market prefers to wait for indications of how the situation in the Middle East will develop before deciding whether prices should rise or fall, according to Peter Gignoux, an analyst at Schroeder Salomon Smith Barney in London.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has four times increased quotas this year, with its mechanism allowing an increase in production of 500,000 barrels having come into effect Tuesday, due to high crude prices.
OPEC Secretary General Rilwanu Lukman said Friday that the organization was simply seeking a fair price for crude oil, but faced a minefield of factors influencing markets, notably speculation.
"The objectives of member countries have simply been to secure a fair price for the oil they produce," Lukman said.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse.