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USA crude rises on concern over Iran sanctions, Venezuelan output

02 May 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump has until May 12 to decide whether to restore the sanctions on Iran that were lifted after an agreement over its disputed nuclear programme.

Weekly data on Tuesday that showed a rise in U.S. crude inventories also subdued the oil price somewhat. French President Emmanuel Macron's prediction that the USA will pull out of the nuclear deal has boosted speculation over reduced shipments from the Islamic Republic. Prices are being supported by continued adherence to the OPEC-led production cuts, increased demand from Asia, possible supply disruptions in Iran and turmoil in Venezuela.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 3 cents to $68.16 a barrel.

"I doubt we will see a big sell off before we have some clarity on the Iran nuclear deal", said Torbjorn Kjus, senior oil analyst at DnB markets in Oslo.

Gasoline futures rose 0.1 percent to settle at $2.1292 a gallon on Monday, the highest since August.

Crude oil prices could be headed for their lowest settlement in about two weeks, failing to build on yesterday's gains after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu accused Iran of engaging in a secret nuclear weapons program; WTI -1.3% at $67.64/bbl, Brent -1.5% at $73.59/bbl.

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Trading on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange is closed for a Chinese public holiday. At the same time, OPEC's production cuts have continued to tighten global markets, despite USA crude output hitting fresh records and the number of rigs reaching the highest levels since 2015.

Crude hovered near $68/bbl amid signals that an Iran nuclear accord may live on, even without the U.S. It also shows that many traders are growing increasingly skeptical about the latest rally - most of the short interest in the sector so far this year occurred in April, according to S3 Partner's findings. The global benchmark crude traded at a $6.43 premium to June WTI. The rig fleet has expanded throughout the entire month of April, adding a total 28.

Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest crude exporter, appointed new board members with experience in worldwide oil and petrochemical businesses as it plans a possible overseas share sale in what could be a record initial public offering. The price rose to $75.47 last week, the highest since November 2014.

Oil fell earlier in the day after a weekly report showed USA drillers added five oil rigs in the week to April 27, bringing the total count to 825, the highest since March 2015, General Electric's Baker Hughes energy services firm said.

"They want to try and work out a deal that could be independent of any kind of Trump walk-away", said Bob Yawger, director of futures at Mizuho Securities USA NY.

USA crude rises on concern over Iran sanctions, Venezuelan output