Oil down to near $100 in light holiday trading

Oil prices fell to near $100 a barrel Monday in light holiday trading as investors awaited a decision on OPEC output quotas and mulled the impact of Middle East political tensions.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for July delivery was down 44 cents to $100.15 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The benchmark contract added 36 cents to settle at $100.59 on Friday.

In London, Brent crude for July delivery was down 36 cents to $114.67 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Markets in the U.S. are closed Monday for the Memorial Day holiday while it is a bank holiday in England.

On Monday, security forces killed anti-government protesters in Syria and Yemen, the latest instances of political violence that has swept the oil-rich region this year.

The Libyan rebels’ finance minister, Ali Tarhouni, said Sunday that the oil fields located in the eastern half of the country under opposition control will resume production once it’s safe to send workers to the fields. He said he did not expect security to be established soon.

Before the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime, Libya produced about 1.6 million barrels per day, but output has ground to a halt during the revolt that began Feb. 15.

Some analysts expect the eventual return of Libyan crude production will help push oil prices lower. Capital Economics said it sees Brent trading below $90 by the end of 2011 as political upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa, which it estimates has added about $20 to the price of crude, eases.

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