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By Ayenat Mersie
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices edged off highs last reached in late 2014, pressured by a stronger dollar, but crude futures still drew support from mounting political tension in the Middle East and shrinking global oil inventories.
Brent crude futures were at $71.67 a barrel at 11:48 a.m. EDT (1548 GMT), down 39 cents. U.S. WTI crude futures were down 13 cents at $66.68.
"The dollar index is the biggest factor in prices today," said Phillip Streible, analyst at RJO Futures in Chicago. The U.S. dollar was up 0.3 percent against a basket of major currencies, making purchases in other currencies more expensive.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said the global oil stocks surplus was close to evaporating due to healthy demand and its own supply cuts.
The group is producing oil below its targets, meaning the world needs to use stocks to meet rising demand. OPEC said in its monthly report oil stocks in the developed world fell by 17.4 million barrels in February to 2.854 billion barrels, around 43 million barrels above the latest five-year average.
"We have seen an accelerated shrinkage of stocks in storage from unparalleled highs of about 400 million barrels to about 43 million above the five-year average," Barkindo said.
OPEC, Russia and several other non-OPEC producers began trimming supply in January 2017. Their pact runs until the end of the year and OPEC meets in June to decide on its next course of action.
On Wednesday, both Brent and WTI hit their highest since late 2014, $73.09 for Brent and $67.45 a barrel for U.S. crude, after Saudi Arabia said it intercepted missiles over Riyadh and U.S. President Donald Trump warned of military action in Syria.
The geopolitical developments more than offset pressure from a U.S. government report showing crude oil inventories rose by 3.3 million barrels, while domestic production hit a record 10.53 million barrels per day (bpd).
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)