Asian shares erase losses as Mideast tensions ease, oil ticks up

Back from the brink back to the bull run

Less than four months ago, half of Saudi Arabia's production capacity was temporarily disabled in a missile strike - which the USA blames on Iran but the Islamic Republic refutes - a stark reminder of the vulnerability of facilities in the region that supplies about a third of the world's oil.

For a week that began with traders causing crude prices to skyrocket due to fears of all-out war between the USA and Iran, all it took on Friday was two-day old news of rising inventories to erase risk premium and cause the commodity to incur its first weekly loss since late November.

Oil futures declined on Friday, with the U.S. crude benchmark on track for its biggest weekly fall since July as fears of a wider U.S. -Iran confrontation faded and data earlier this week showed a rise in U.S. crude inventories.

Iran offered no immediate signal it would retaliate further over a January 3 USA strike that killed a senior military commander.

The build, reported on Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration, shocked the market after analysts forecast a drop of 3.6 million barrels.

In a significant development, the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a resolution that would force President Trump to seek consent from Congress before taking new military action against Iran.

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British news agency, the "Reuters" had maintained: "Oil prices steadied on Thursday after the previous session's sharp losses on the back of swelling USA crude stocks and easing fears of imminent escalation of conflict between the United States and Iran".

Oil futures traded little changed in the immediate wake of the release of the U.S. December employment report, then moved lower.

Top oil producers led by Saudi Arabia have agreed to reduce output by as much as 2.1 million barrels per day through the first quarter of 2020.

Brent futures prices steadied at 65.41 dollars per barrel, about where they began the year.

On Thursday, WTI Crude oil futures ended marginally down at $59.56 a barrel, after having shed almost 5% a session earlier.

On the Multi Commodity Exchange, crude oil delivery for February contracts slipped Rs 37, or 0.87 percent, to Rs 4,206 per barrel with a business turnover of 3,660 lots.

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