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Oil prices mixed in Asian trade
[SINGAPORE] Oil prices were mixed in Asia Monday as fighting between pro-government forces and Iran-backed rebels in Yemen fuels fears about a supply disruption in the crude-rich Middle East, analysts said.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for June delivery fell one cent to US$57.14 while Brent crude gained one cent to US$65.29 in late-morning trade.
Oil prices will "continue to receive support as there seems to be no sign of abatement in the conflict in Yemen", said Sanjeev Gupta, head of the Asia-Pacific oil and gas practice at business consultancy firm EY.
Saudi Arabia-led warplanes hit the rebel-held presidential palace in Yemen's capital Sanaa Sunday, with fighting also intensifying in a neighbouring province between Sunni tribes and fighters loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
The country has been gripped by turmoil since the Shiite rebels launched a power takeover in Sanaa in February.
Yemen is not a major oil-producing country, but its coast forms one side of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the key strategic entry point into the Red Sea through which some 4.7 million barrels of oil passes each day on ships headed to or from the Suez Canal.
Analysts said oil prices were also supported after data released Friday by Baker Hughes showed the US oil rig count fell by 31 to 703 this week, and well down from 1,534 a year ago.
Dealers are hoping a slowdown in US output could alleviate a global crude oversupply, which led to a collapse in prices of more than 50 per cent between June and January.