Crude oil futures inched upward Monday as investors pondered another potential source of tensions in the Middle East and its potential effect on the global oil market.
Oil for April delivery gained three cents to settle at $101.19 a barrel after Saudi Arabia deployed troops to Bahrain, whose government requested the aid. Saudi Arabia's tiny island neighbor has been the scene of recent protests by the country's Shiite majority who oppose the kingdom's minority Sunni rulers. Also, unemployment among younger Bahrainis has been a source of discontent with the government.
Crude oil traded within a range from $98.47 to $101.15 Monday.
April natural gas settled at $3.91 per thousand cubic feet on the first trading day of the week. Monday's two-cent gain resulted from concerns that global liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies will become tighter as Japan tries to restore lost power from Friday's earthquake and tsunami. Should outages continue for an extended period at nuclear power stations in the affected region, Japan is expected to become more reliant on LNG spot cargoes.
Natural gas peaked at $4.05 and bottomed out at $3.91.
Front-month gasoline lost three cents to end the day at $2.96 a gallon. The April gasoline futures contract fluctuated Monday from $2.93 to $2.999.
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