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Crude down but well-supported on Iran tensions
 
SINGAPORE, March 8 (BSS/AFP) - Oil prices dipped in Asian trade Thursday after a US crude stockpile gain but were well- supported as Iranian sanctions limited supplies from the oil- exporting country, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for April
delivery, fell a cent to $106.15 and Brent North Sea crude for
delivery in April shed two cents to $124.10.

Traders were paying more heed to the initial effects of
Western sanctions against Iran than a slight crude stockpile gain
in the US, said IG Markets strategist Justin Harper in a report.

"Shipments of Iranian oil may have dropped about 25 percent
as the threatening talk about reducing supplies from Iran are now
being replaced with action. While this risk premium exists, oil
will continue to face upward pressure," he added.

The US Department of Energy late Wednesday said inventories
in the world's largest oil consumer grew by 800,000 barrels in
the week to March 2, less than traders had expected but a gain
nonetheless.

The United States on Wednesday demanded verifiable
assurances that Tehran was not building a nuclear weapon after
Iran said fresh nuclear talks would fail if they were used to
pressure the country.

The prospects of new talks come at a time of heightened
tensions between Iran and its regional arch-rival Israel, and as
Tehran struggles under a punishing new range of US and European
Union sanctions.

Western powers and Israel suspect Iran is seeking to build a
nuclear bomb under the guise of a civilian atomic programme, a
charge consistently denied by Tehran, which says its nuclear
drive is aimed for peaceful purposes.

Before the sanctions, Iran was the second-biggest exporter
of crude in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting
Countries, after Saudi Arabia, and the world's third biggest
exporter after Saudi Arabia and Russia.
 
 
 
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