US oil ends under $108 amid Syria 'will they or won't they'

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Friday, 30 Aug 2013 | 2:41 PM ET
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Crude seesawed in choppy trading on Friday, with U.S. oil settling sharply lower amid relentless speculation about whether the United States would stage or lead a military intervention in war torn Syria.

Oil sank in early trading as doubts grew about the U.S.'s commitment to a confrontation with Damascus. Prices briefly pared losses after Secretary of State John Kerry laid out a case against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad -- fanning new speculation that the U.S. could indeed launch a strike against the country, even as Britain's parliament defeated a proposal that could have led to UK involvement in an attack on Syria.

With most of the Middle East already embroiled in conflict, analysts are speculating that a new conflict could strain supplies, triggering an even sharper run-up in the price of crude. Investors are worried that a battle with Syria could spill over into other parts of the strife-riven region, particularly as oil supplies from Libya, Nigeria and Iraq have fallen.

Yet after President Barack Obama stated no final decision had been made about a strike, crude revisited the low end of the session's trading range. Brent crude shed more than $1 to trade under $114 a barrel. U.S. crude for October delivery fell by $1.15 to end the session at $107.65, after falling to the day's troughs at $106.75.

Oil prices are still on track for their biggest monthly gain in a year, with Brent up more than 6 percent in August.

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--Reuters contributed to this article