After months of range-bound trading during which OPEC-led supply cuts supported crude prices but rising USA output capped markets, prices have moved up significantly this month just as demand looks stronger than at any point in recent months, especially in China. Brent crude rose 0.6 percent to $58.16 a barrel while USA oil futures hovered near the $52 level in lunchtime trade.
The global benchmark hits its highest in three weeks earlier in the session at $58.54 a barrel because of ongoing tensions around oil-rich Iraq and Iran, which raised risk premiums. Still, the rally fizzled on Tuesday, with prices trading little changed, as two fields pumping a combined 275,000 barrels a day were shut amid the violence.
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Crude oil prices edged higher on Monday as the clash between Iraqi and Kurdish forces began in Kirkuk lifting up worries over supply interruption.
Despite the fears of the Kurdistan region referendum affecting oil output, the banking company said the conflict between the United States and Iran remains a bigger long-term threat to global supplies. President Donald Trump last week refused to certify Iran's compliance with a 2015 worldwide agreement to curb the Islamic Republic's nuclear program in exchange for economic sanctions relief.
"If there are (new sanctions), we expect that several hundred thousand barrels of Iranian exports would be immediately at risk", Goldman said. "Oil and geopolitics are very much interlinked", Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, told Reuters.
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However, inventories of gasoline and diesel rose, the latter unexpectedly, reviving some concerns about elevated stockpiles during a time when demand for petroleum products declines.
The euro slumped 0.25 percent to $1.1792, while the dollar index .DXY added to gains, rising 0.21 percent as investors repositioned following disappointing inflation data on Friday that sent the greenback lower.
OPEC producers have struggled to maintain caps on their output quotas, and Iran has said it supports an extension of the current production cut deal to the end of next year.
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Efforts by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and Russian Federation to restrict supply have eaten into reserves in industrialised economies. "We see Brent averaging $54 this quarter and $52.50/bbl in first-half 2018, compared with our previous forecasts of $50 and $49.50/bbl respectively", it said.