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Crude oil tops $70 as US-Iran tensions escalate

Oil prices continued to rise Monday as...

Posted: Jan 6, 2020 3:54 AM
Updated: Jan 6, 2020 3:59 AM

Oil prices continued to rise Monday as tensions escalate between the United States and Iran.

Futures for Brent crude, the global benchmark, gained 2.4% to reach $70.24 per barrel — the first time prices have hit that amount in more than six months.

US oil futures advanced 2.1% to reach $64.36 per barrel.

Oil prices rose more than 3% on Friday after Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian commander, was killed in a US strike ordered by President Donald Trump. The killing risks further escalating tensions in the Middle East, which is home to major oil producing countries and key energy supply routes.

Still, analysts said last week that they expect a limited response that won't significantly disrupt crude supplies, keeping a lid on oil prices.

Stocks, meanwhile, mostly kept falling on Monday. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.8%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 0.7%.

China's Shanghai Composite opened down 0.4%, but reversed losses to trade in the green.

Japan's Nikkei 225 tumbled 2.1% on its first trading day of the year. Japanese markets were closed for several days to celebrate the New Year holiday.

Meanwhile, a closely watched private survey of China's services sector released Monday showed slowing growth in December. The Caixin/Markit services purchasing managers index reached 52.5 in December, down from November's seven-month high of 53.5. Still, December's number was above the 50-point level indicating growth.

Official data from that sector released last week also showed slowing growth.

US futures, meanwhile, fell about 0.5% on Monday, building on last week's losses.

-- Charles Riley contributed to this report.

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