Oil prices steady as traders eye Mideast conflict

Oil prices steady as traders eye Mideast conflict

The price of oil swung between slight gains and losses above $85 a barrel today as investors monitored fighting between Israel and militants in Gaza and its potential impact on supplies, which so far remain ample.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for December delivery was up 25 cents to $85.70 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped by 87 cents to finish at $85.45 per barrel in New York on Thursday.

Some investors fear that oil supplies could be disrupted if the Israel-Hamas conflict grows to destabilize the Middle East, a huge producer of crude. But the impact of those concerns was offset mostly by signs that global economy is struggling, meaning demand is weak, and that supplies are still high, particularly in the U.S.

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