Brent crude oil falls after nuclear test
Oil prices fell on Monday after a powerful North Korean nuclear test explosion triggered a flight of investors away from crude markets and into gold futures, which are seen as a safe haven. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, had fallen by almost 1 per cent from their last close, or 41 cents, to $52.34 per barrel by 6:55 am. The drop came as traders were nervously eyeing developments in North Korea, where the military conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test over the weekend. Pyongyang said it had tested an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile, prompting the threat of a “massive” military response from the United States if it or its allies were threatened. That put downward pressure on crude as traders moved money out of oil — seen as high-risk markets — into gold futures, traditionally viewed as a safe haven for investors. Spot gold prices rose for a third day, gaining 0.9 per cent on Monday. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were more stable, at $47.30 barrel, close to their last settlement. Traders said that the more stable US crude prices were a result of production outages following Hurricane Harvey. About 5.5 per cent of the US Gulf of Mexico’s oil production, or 96,000 barrels of daily output, remained shut on Sunday, the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said. At the same time, refineries that use crude to make fuel were gradually starting up again, along with the pipelines transporting products. “Traders are hopeful that crude backlogs will be cleared,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at futures brokerage OANDA.