Oil prices down ahead of Yellen testimony


SINGAPORE–Oil prices fell in Asia Tuesday as investors await congressional testimony by the U.S. central bank chief for fresh clues about the state of the world’s biggest economy, analysts said.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August delivery was down five cents to US$100.86 while Brent crude for August eased 23 cents to US$106.75 in afternoon trade.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen will begin two days of testimony later Tuesday before congressional committees that will focus on the bank’s time frame for raising benchmark interest rates.

French lender Credit Agricole said Yellen is likely to say that the Fed’s key policy-making committee “look for the rate lift-off in 2015.”

However, she will “emphasize that Fed views on the timing of the lift-off remain contingent on the economic outlook,” the bank said in a market commentary.

Oil prices remain supported following turmoil in Libya, which has clouded expectations of a return of the country’s long-disrupted crude supplies to the market.

Crude futures had fallen heavily last week, stoked by the prospect that the ports could add about 500,000 barrels of crude per day to global energy markets.

The North African state’s output currently stands at about 320,000 barrels per day, about a fifth of its normal output.