A war-weary oil market barely reacted to Iraqi missiles landing in Israel and Saudi Arabia Friday, with prices ending the day lower after a brief rise.
The standard-setting West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery dropped 36 cents on the day to $21.35 a barrel but was still $2.36 above last Friday's close of $18.99 a barrel.Last week's settlement followed a price drop of more than 40 percent over two days, as the market reacted to initial allied air attacks that appeared to remove Iraq's air threat to oil fields in Saudi Arabia, the world's largest exporter.
WTI prices rose $4.51 early this week to stand at a high of $23.50 a barrel at midday Wednesday, at which time war deja vu hit the market and prices began to slip.
The extent of the weariness became apparent shortly before 11 a.m. EST Friday, when WTI prices hardly moved despite reports that Iraqi missiles were landing in Israel.
WTI "popped" about 15 cents to 20 cents from around $21.70 a barrel on the Merc immediately after the missiles were reported landing.
But they then quickly settled back to around $21.75 a barrel, said Tom Bentz, director of trading at United Energy Inc. in New York.
The market also failed to react later in the trading day when Scud missiles landed in Saudi Arabia.
The Scud missile attack on Israel, the fifth from Iraq since the Persian Gulf war started last week, caused one death and 40 injuries. An Israeli official said the country would not retaliate immediately and rely "for better or worse" on U.S. protection.