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Oil prices fall as Israel-Hamas truce holds

BANGKOK – The price of oil fell Monday as a truce between Israel and the militant group Hamas that stopped fighting in the Gaza Strip appeared to hold despite a confrontation late last week.

Benchmark oil for January delivery was down 33 cents to $87.95 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the contract rose 90 cents to close at $88.28 a barrel on the Nymex after Israeli troops fired on crowds in Gaza surging toward a border fence, killing one Palestinian.

Prior to the shooting, oil prices had been falling, thanks mostly to optimism that the cease-fire agreement between the two sides would prevent a broader conflict in the region that could disrupt crude supplies. The truce was struck last Wednesday to end to an eight-day Israeli offensive against Gaza militants who had fired rockets into Israel, but remains fragile.

Traders were also keeping a close eye on developments in Egypt, said independent oil analyst Stephen Schork. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on Sunday moved to grant himself near-absolute power, sparking street clashes between his supporters and opponents.

Brent, which is used to set prices for many international varieties of oil, fell 33 cents to $111.05 a barrel.

Other futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange:

  • Wholesale gasoline lost 0.2 cent to $2.719 a gallon.
  • Natural gas lost 5 cents to $3.851 per 1,000 cubic feet.
  • Heating oil was unchanged at $3.086 a gallon.

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