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Oil pares losses after U.S. crude stocks fall most since 2016

Reuters  |  NEW YORK 

By Jessica Resnick-Ault

NEW YORK (Reuters) - futures pared losses briefly Wednesday after U.S. crude inventories fell the most in nearly two years, before trading lower in a volatile session in which supplies from Libya and were expected to increase.

U.S. crude stockpiles decreased by nearly 13 million barrels last week, while gasoline inventories also fell and distillate stockpiles rose, the said on Wednesday. The decrease was the biggest since Sept. 2, 2016. Crude benchmarks shrugged off the draw.

"In spite of the extraordinary draw in crude inventories, the market is under pressure after refiners produced a record amount of gasoline this week and in conjunction with a greater than expected build in distillate inventories," said Andrew Lipow, at Associates in

Brent crude fell $1.84 to $77.02 a barrel by 10:46 a.m. EDT (1446 GMT), after touching $77.84 a barrel after the data was released. Brent earlier touched a session low of $76.76 a barrel. U.S. light crude, supported by the tight North American market, was down 88 cents at $73.23 a barrel.

The spectre of tariffs on a further $200 billion of Chinese goods sent commodities lower along with stock markets, as tension between the world's biggest economies intensified.

"Trade concerns have bitten today," said Michael McCarthy, at "If these tariffs are introduced there will be an impact on global growth and demand."

The price fall was aided by Tripoli-based (NOC) had lifted a force majeure on four Libyan oil ports, saying production and exports from the terminals would "return to normal levels in the next few hours".

Libyan fell to 527,000 barrels per day (bpd) from a high of 1.28 million bpd in February following the port closures, the NOC said on Monday.

"The lifting of force majeure at all the Libyan ports will certainly come as relief from a supply perspective, but it remains to be seen how quickly exports can return to normal," Harry Tchilinguirian, at BNP Paribas, told Global Oil Forum.

Adding to the bearish mood were signs of a possible relaxation of U.S. sanctions on Iranian crude exports.

U.S. said on Tuesday that would consider requests from some countries to be exempt from sanctions due to go into effect in November to prevent from exporting oil.

had previously said countries must halt all imports of Iranian oil from Nov. 4 or face U.S. financial restrictions, with no exemptions.

The pulled out of a multinational deal in May to lift sanctions against in return for curbs to Tehran's nuclear programme.

The prospect of sanctions on from Iran, the world's fifth-biggest oil producer, has helped push up in recent weeks with both crude contracts trading near 3-1/2 year highs.

Supply to the U.S. market has also been squeezed by the loss of some Canadian

(Reporting by Jessica Resnick-Ault, additional reporting by in London and Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo; Editing by and Susan Thomas)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, July 11 2018. 20:33 IST