Oil prices calm after US$10 slump

NEW YORK, July 9, 2008 (AFP) – Oil prices held steady Wednesday after two days of sharp declines, as news that Iran tested a long-range missile capable of hitting Israel pushed up prices temporarily. The market shook off news of another slump in US oil inventories and also digested a pledge by the Group of Eight leaders to make the oil market more transparent to help stabilize supplies and investment.

New York’s main oil contract, light sweet crude for August delivery, rose a penny to settle at 136.05 dollars per barrel.

London’s Brent North Sea oil for August gained 15 cents to settle at 135.58 dollars.
Prices have tumbled some 10 dollars from record highs a week ago, and analysts say the market remains sensitive to any news with a potential effect on supply or demand.

“The familiar divide remains: sellers are mainly focused on contracting demand as a consequence of faltering economic activity and buyers who are chiefly concerned with rising inflation and future threats to supply,” said Mike Fitzpatrick at MF Global.

Prices got a brief boost after the US Department of Energy (DoE) said that American crude reserves fell 5.9 million barrels in the week to July 4. That beat market e