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Oil prices steady

Oil prices steadied yesterday near six-month highs after data that showed US stockpiles rose to their highest since October 2017, countering fears of tight supply resulting from OPEC output cuts and US sanctions on Venezuela and Iran.

Brent crude futures fell 17 cents to $74,34 a barrel by 11:00 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT). The international benchmark reached $74,73 a barrel on Tuesday, highest since November 1.

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 53 cents to $65,77 a barrel. The contract hit $66.0 a barrel on Tuesday, highest since October 31.

US crude inventories rose 5,5 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration said, far more than analysts’ forecast of an increase of 1,3 million barrels.

However, gasoline stocks fell by 2.1 million barrels, a larger-than-anticipated drop.

“What we’re looking at is a headline number bearish on crude but supported somewhat by the gasoline number,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “Because of the sanctions that are coming down on Iran and the fact that there’s going to be no waivers, it makes this number look more bullish.”

Crude futures and prices for spot delivery rallied after the United States said on Monday it would end all exemptions for sanctions against Iran, demanding countries halt oil imports from Tehran from May or face punitive action. The move raised worries about tighter global oil supplies

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