MTECHTIPS-Crude prices gained in Asia on Monday with tensions on the Korean peninsula in focus along with the fallout from a missile strike by U.S. forces last week on a Syrian airbase that drew a sharp rebuke from Iran and Russia. On the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for June delivery was last quoted up 0.38% to $55.44 a barrel. Elsewhere, the U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude May contract rose 0.42% to $52.53 a barrel. Last week, oil futures settled higher for the fourth session in a row on Friday, extending a rally to the strongest level in around a month after two U.S. destroyers based in the Eastern Mediterranean fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base, which the U.S. said was in retaliation to Bash al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons against his own people. Oil pared some of the gains later in the session as concerns about a wider escalation in the region faded and U.S. economic data weighed on global markets. But analysts said the initial knee-jerk reaction to the airstrike may have been overdone given Syria’s role as a very minor oil producer and after U.S. officials described the attack as a one-off event that would not lead to wider escalation. Meanwhile, oil traders continued to focus on the ongoing rebound in U.S. shale production, which could derail efforts by other major producers to re balance global oil supply and demand remained in focus. Oilfield services provider Baker Hughes said late Friday that the number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil rose by 10 last week, the 12th weekly increase in a row. That brought the total count to 672, the most since September 2015. Earlier in the week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said that crude oils increased by 1.57 million barrels to yet another all-time high of 535.5 million
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