Oil prices rise on Iran sanctions, outlook uncertain

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Crude futures steadied on Friday after climbing to four-year highs earlier this week, and both Brent and USA crude marked weekly gains ahead of US sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

West Texas Intermediate for November delivery traded 32 cents higher at $75.55 at 9.55 a.m.in London. "Iranian crude oil has been sold at a lower price than other crude oil to expand its market share after the US sanctions on Iran", said an official of the oil refinery industry.

WTI's weekly gain was about 1.3 per cent; Brent's was around 1.4 per cent. The ongoing outlook for a tightening of crude markets overshadowed forecasts for a second weekly gain in USA stockpiles.

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Iran's crude and condensate exports have tapered off sharply since early May when US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on the country.

With crude prices soaring and many currencies in emerging markets, including India's rupee and Indonesia's rupiah declining, analysts warn that economic growth may be eroded. The contract was up 2.2 percent this week.

The Trump administration's decision to pull out of a 2015 global agreement to curb Iran's nuclear programme, and a re-imposition of economic sanctions on the third-largest producer of crude - set to kick in next month - has helped to drive oil prices higher because the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries isn't expected to be able to match the country's lost output, according to CNBC. Originally, the plan had apparently been to officially announce a production increase of 500,000 barrels per day, but this met with opposition from a number of countries, including Iran. Meanwhile, Brent oil price for December delivery advanced 1.49 USA dollars to 86.29 US dollars per barrel. The responses varied widely, with one analyst forecasting a 3.65 million-barrel gain, while some others predict a decrease of 2.5 million to 3 million barrels.

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"We expect USA crude production to exit the year at 11.3 million bpd", Barclays bank said in a note on Tuesday. The kingdom has lifted production nearly to a record and may raise it again next month, although doing so will infringe on available spare capacity, limiting Saudi Arabia's ability to react to other supply shocks. Recent tanker data had shown a sharp fall in exports to India, but the reappearance of these tankers may imply that flows to India may not be as low as preliminary data showed.

-With assistance from Stephen Stapczynski.

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