Oil prices fall on eurozone jitters, profit-taking

Oil prices fell Monday on renewed political uncertainty in Italy and Spain and as investors booked profits after weeks of gains.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for March delivery, tumbled to $96.17 a barrel, settling $1.60 below Friday's close.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March slid $1.16 to close at $115.60 a barrel in London trade.

"All the reasons that it (oil) rallied last week have been reversed," said Matt Smith of Schneider Electric.

"Crude was supported by broader positive sentiment across equities, strength coming through the euro, and we're just seeing a reverse of that."

European stocks slumped and US equities were solidly lower in late-session trade as markets were gripped with eurozone concerns after former prime minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, a candidate in the February 24-25 election, promised to scrap an unpopular property tax and refund the taxes already paid.

Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was under pressure to resign amid a corruption scandal.

Fawad Razaqzada of Global Futures and Forex said that a recent mixed bag of global economic pointers suggested demand for crude oil should remain stable "at best."

"Although one cannot be too sure about the supply side risks with the Middle East tensions still showing no signs of relief," he said.

burs-vs/pmh

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