Oil prices edge higher with Iran in focus after helicopter crash

Investing.com-- Oil prices rose slightly in Asian trade on Monday as traders sought more information on rescue attempts for Iran’s President after a helicopter crash. 

Crude prices were sitting on some gains from last week, as the prospect of U.S. interest rate cuts and improving demand in major importer China sparked increased appetite for crude.

Markets were also encouraged by the U.S. government saying it had purchased about 3.3 million barrels of oil to help refill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. 

Brent oil futures expiring in July rose 0.3% to $84.19 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 0.2% to $79.70 a barrel by 22:08 ET (02:08 GMT). 

Iran stability in focus after helicopter crash 

Media reports showed that a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister crashed in mountainous terrain due to bad weather conditions over the weekend. 

Rescue efforts were launched, while Reuters reported some Iranian officials stating that Raisi’s life was potentially at risk. 

Raisi was seen as a contender to become Iran’s next supreme leader- the highest political position in the oil producing nation. 

The helicopter crash and uncertainty over Raisi’s fate come amid simmering tensions in the Middle East, after Israel and Iran engaged in strikes against each other earlier this year.

Iran has also repeatedly criticized Israel’s continued offensive against Gaza, which the country kept up over the weekend. 

Fears that continued instability in the Middle East could disrupt oil supplies from the region have been a key point of support for oil prices, keeping Brent trading comfortably above $80 for most of 2024. 

Rate uncertainty, OPEC anticipation keeps caution in play 

Oil markets remained cautious over a slew of upcoming cues on U.S. interest rates and the economy this week.

The minutes of the Federal Reserve’s late-April are due this week, as are addresses from a string of Fed officials.

Markets were also on edge before a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+), which is scheduled for June 1. Any updates on the cartel’s plans to maintain ongoing production cuts will be squarely in focus.

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