Oil prices rise an inch as US stocks fall, sanctions in Iran weigh

SEOUL: The oil markets rose on Wednesday with a fall in US crude stocks and a weaker dollar, while worries about a possible shortage in Iran's stock from November as a result of US sanctions also supported prices.

Brent crude oil futures were at $ 72.90 per barrel at 0,653 GMT, an increase of 27 cents, or 0.37 percent, of their last slot.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) raw futures rose 27 cents or 0.41 percent, at $ 66.11 per barrel.

US crude stocks fell by 5.2 million barrels in the week to 17 August to 405.6 million barrels, ahead of analyst forecasts for a 1.5 million barrel decline, according to data from the American Petroleum Institute industry group.

Official information from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) is available on Wednesday at 10:30 am EDT (1430 GMT).

"Investors are also convinced that (official) inventories in the United States will decrease this week," ANZ Bank said in a note.

Signs of a slowdown in US crude oil production growth and a weaker US dollar also fueled some oil price support, said Kim Kwangrae, commodity analyst at Samsung Futures in Seoul.

The US dollar index against a basket with six major currencies fell to 95,211 on Wednesday, after losing 0.7 percent the day before, under pressure from US President Trump's comments on monetary policy.

A weaker US dollar makes oil, priced in dollars, less expensive for buyers in other currencies.

The EIA lowered its 2018 US crude production growth forecast at 7 to 10.68 million barrels per day (bpd) of 10.79 million bpd amid lower crude prices.

Concerns also remain as to how much oil will be removed from the global markets by renewed sanctions against Iran, despite concerns that demand growth may decline as a result of a trade dispute between the United States and China, the world's two largest economies.

"The problem with Iran continues to occupy the spirit of traders," said Greg McKenna, market leader of the AxiTrader futures broker market.

Iran, member of the Organization of the Oil-exporting Countries (OPEC) and OPEC's third-largest oil producer, said earlier this week that no other OPEC member could take over its share in oil exports.

Meanwhile, there is a Chinese trade delegation in Washington to discuss the trade dispute with the US. But signs of a thaw were unlikely, as US President Donald Trump Reuters said in an interview on Monday that he did not expect much progress.

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