NYMEX-Crude near 2-week high approaching $88 on Mideast tensions

SEOUL Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:05am IST

SEOUL Nov 19 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures extended gains in early Asian trade on Monday, as fresh Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip and Palestinian rocket attacks stoked concerns over escalating tensions causing wider Middle East supply disruptions.

FUNDAMENTALS

* U.S. January crude gained 76 cents to $87.68 a barrel as of 0010 GMT, the highest since Nov. 7.

* Front-month January Brent crude climbed 55 cents at $109.50 a barrel.

* An Israeli missile killed at least 11 Palestinian civilians including four children in Gaza on Sunday, medical officials said, while international pressure for a ceasefire seemed certain to mount.

* The Palestinian Authority has asked for an urgent Arab League summit to discuss Israeli attacks on Gaza, the League said on Sunday. The head of the Arab League and a group of Arab foreign ministers will visit Gaza on Tuesday to show solidarity with Palestinians under Israeli attack, officials said on Sunday.

* U.S. President Barack Obama said on Sunday it would be "preferable" to avoid an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza but put the onus on Egypt and Turkey to get Hamas to halt cross-border rocket fire, saying Israel had a right to defend itself from attack.

* Turkey will formally ask NATO on Monday to set up missiles on its border with Syria due to growing concern about spillover from the civil war in its neighbour, a German newspaper reported. The Netherlands and Germany may send Patriot missiles to NATO ally Turkey, Dutch news agency ANP reported on Sunday.

* To discuss the "fiscal cliff" of expiring tax cuts and spending reductions, U.S. President Obama will meet with congressional leaders in the week after Thanksgiving, and he remains committed to fighting off a tax increase for most Americans, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Saturday.

MARKETS NEWS

* The yen was hovering near a seven-month low versus the dollar, as expectations of more stimulus by Japanese authorities after next month's election made holding the already low-yielding currency even less appealing. Against the dollar, the euro stood at $1.2743, steady from late New York levels.

* Hopes that U.S. politicians would find common ground to steer clear of the "fiscal cliff" boosted stocks on Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average added 0.37 percent to 12,588.31. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.48 percent to 1,359.88. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.57 percent to 2,853.13.

* Japan's benchmark Nikkei average opened up 1.30 percent at 9,141.27 on Monday, while the broader Topix gained 1.26 percent to 760.82.

DATA/EVENTS

* The following data is expected on Monday (GMT):

0900 Italy Industrial orders Sep

1500 U.S. Existing home sales Oct

1500 U.S. NAHB housing market index Nov (Reporting by Meeyoung Cho; Editing by Ed Davies)

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