Oil prices rise amid ongoing Middle East hostilities

Investing.com -- Oil prices were on pace to end the week higher on Friday, as ongoing violence in the Middle East showed little sign of abating after Israel rejected a ceasefire offer from Hamas.

At 09:45 ET (14:45 GMT), the Brent oil futures contract expiring in April was up 0.9% at $82.40 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed by 1.3% to $77.22 per barrel.

Israeli forces launched a fresh attack on southern Gaza on Friday despite warnings of a high death toll among Palestinians in the area from aid groups and U.S. President Joe Biden.

Israel had previously carried out a bombing on the southern border city of Rafah on Thursday following a decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to refuse to bring hostilities to a halt. Crude prices, which rose in the prior session, are now on track to increase by nearly 7% versus the prior week.

"There had been suggestions, or at least hope, that we could see a ceasefire, which could have helped to de-escalate the situation. But clearly, the concern now is we see further escalation," analysts at ING said in a note.

The Israel-Hamas conflict and its implications on broader tensions throughout the Middle East have cast doubt over supplies out of the crucial region, placing upward pressure on oil prices.

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