Crude oil prices edged higher in Asian trade, Friday, but remained rangebound as renewed concerns over the eurozone debt crisis offset fears that over an escalation of violence in Saudi Arabia may threaten crude supply from the Middle East.
Light sweet crude for January delivery gained 43 cents to $96.60 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange during Asian trading hours. Brent crude oil futures for January delivery gained 0.61 percent to $107.68 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London.
Meanwhile a strong dollar, which made commodities more expensive, also weighed on crude. The euro declined 0.29 percent to 1.3308 against the greenback and the dollar rose 0.36 percent to 77.40 yen.
The Saudi interior ministry said Thursday two men were shot dead during Shiite protests in the region, adding that since Monday a number of security checkpoints in the Qatif region have increasingly come under gunfire, WSJ reported.
Concerns over eurozone crisis renewed as comments from euro-zone leaders again signaled that there is no agreement on how to resolve the long-running debt crisis. Most European markets declined Thursday after German Chancellor Angela Merkel again criticized calls for the issuance of euro bonds following a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti.
Meanwhile, Fitch ratings downgraded Portugal's rating to junk status on Thursday, citing large fiscal imbalances, high indebtedness across all sectors and adverse macroeconomic outlook. Fitch lowered Portugal's credit rating by one notch to BB+ from BBB-, which is still one notch higher compared to Moody's rating of Ba2.