NEW YORK (DTN) — New York Mercantile Exchange oil futures eased across the board while ICE Brent futures were a tad higher on Thursday morning as traders booked profits amid doubts Iran cut off crude oil exports to Europe .
Also, growing fears o
f a potentially messy debt default by Greece were pressuring oil futures after the European Union delayed a decision to approve a bailout package for Athens.
Oil rallied on Wednesday on bullish U.S. inventory data and reports Iran halted crude supplies to six European countries, but there have been many conflicting reports since then.
Iranian state media reports were confusing at best while Iran’s oil ministry has denied they had stopped exports. Analysts also said such a move was unlikely as Iran needed money and is currently having problems selling its oil because of the EU embargo and tough sanctions by the United States.
On Greece, EU finance ministers on Wednesday failed to reach a deal on a bailout package for Athens, delaying a decision on the issue until another meeting scheduled for Monday. Greece needs the $170 billion bailout fund by March 20, which is the deadline to pay its bondholders.
Analysts fear that a failure to get the money could lead to a chaotic debt default for Greece, which could spook markets and trigger a slide into recession for the euro zone.
Worries over Greece pushed the euro to a three-week low versus the U.S.
dollar as investors were risk averse, with a stronger greenback adding pressure on oil futures. European equities and U.S. stock futures were lower ahead of a raft of U.S. economic data to be released later this morning.