Oil Up to Near $93 as Cyprus Uncertainty Lingers

The price of oil inched up closer to $93 a barrel Friday after a big slide the day before as the financial crisis in Cyprus kept traders on edge.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for May delivery was up 35 cents to $92.81 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed 1 percent on Thursday, falling $1.05 to finish at $92.45.

The European Central Bank has threatened to end emergency support of Cyprus' banks next week unless leaders there can secure more funding.

Cyprus must raise about 5.8 billion euros ($7.5 billion) by Monday to avoid bankruptcy. Several plans have failed, including a proposal to tax deposits in the nation's banks. If the Mediterranean country is unable to secure a bailout of 10 billion euros ($13 billion) above its own efforts, its banks will fail and it could be forced to leave the euro currency.

Cypriot lawmakers were set to vote Friday on a new set of revenue measures meant to secure the bailout, while attempts to clinch aid from Russia appeared to have failed. Russian depositors have around 20 billion euros in the country.

"Crude oil prices rebounded from earlier losses and corrected higher on Friday, on a fairly volatile trading session as uncertainty in Cyprus continues to weigh on market sentiment," said a report from Sucden Financial Research in London, adding it expected oil prices to remain within their recent range, "while any surprises from Cyprus could give some momentum to the market."

Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, was up 11 cents to $107.50 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

  • Wholesale gasoline fell 0.18 cent to $3.055 a gallon.
  • Heating oil lost 0.45 cent to $2.974 a gallon.
  • Natural gas rose 5.8 cents to $3.989 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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