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Oil dropped on speculation that air strikes by Saudi Arabia and its allies against rebel sites in Yemen don’t pose a threat to ample global crude supplies.
Futures slipped 5% in New York, paring their gain this week to 6.9%. Saudi Arabia led a coalition of 10 Sunni-ruled nations that bombed Shiite rebels in Yemen, on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula. The situation is unlikely to have any near-term effect on global oil supplies, according to Goldman Sachs.
Yemen lies on one side of Bab el-Mandeb, the fourth-busiest oil and fuel shipping bottleneck in the world by volume, while neighboring Saudi Arabia exports more crude than any other country. While the bombing campaign is elevating the risk of a disruption in the world’s largest oil-producing region, a supply glut in the U.S. continues to hold prices at less than half their June peak.
“There’s a realization that the conflict in Yemen isn’t likely to have any impact on oil shipments anytime soon,” Bob Yawger, director of the futures division at Mizuho Securities USA in New York, said by phone. “If the strait were under threat, we would be right there, and anyway there’s no indication that anyone is trying to block it.”
West Texas intermediate for May delivery fell $2.56 to $48.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract climbed $2.22 to $51.43 on Thursday, the highest close since March 4.
Brent for May settlement dropped $2.78, or 4.7%, to end at $56.41 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.