Cyprus bailout: Oil mixed in Asia as market follows Cyprus news

SINGAPORE (AFP) - Oil prices were mixed in volatile Asian trading on Tuesday, with investors closely following developments in the eurozone following the controversial Cyprus bailout deal, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, gained three cents to US$93.77 (S$117) a barrel in mid-morning Asian trade while Brent North Sea crude for May delivery dropped 18 cents to US$109.33.

Brent prices were weighed down by concerns over the Cyprus deal, said Mr Ker Chung Yang, senior investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.

"Oil markets are likely to remain volatile for the next few days (with) investors monitoring for any spillover of the developments in Cyprus to other euro zone nations," he said in a market commentary.

Euro zone officials on Monday signalled that the shock levy of up to 9.9 per cent on all bank deposits in Cyprus, part of an agreed bailout deal unveiled last weekend, could be modified to lessen the hit on small depositors.

"The hint of flexibility by European policymakers settled a few nerves," said Mr Jason Hughes, head of premium client management at IG Markets Singapore.

Eurozone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund on Saturday agreed on a €10 billion-euro (S$16 billion) bailout deal for Cyprus, the fifth euro zone member to be saved from bankruptcy.

It is the first euro zone bailout plan in which private depositors are having to help foot the bill.

The US benchmark oil prices recovered modestly in New York on Monday, with some analysts saying the Cypriot economy was not large enough to have a significant impact on the European and global economies.

"The market began to digest the fact that Cyprus is a very small part of the European economy," said broker and analyst Gene McGillian at Tradition Energy.