Iran tension and doubts over Iraq supplies stabilise oil prices

Brent Crude

Crude prices have increased significantly this month just as demand seems sturdier compared to any point in previous months, especially in China.

After months of range-bound trading during which OPEC-led supply cuts supported crude prices but rising US 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 climbed 1.2 percent to $57.88 per barrel.

Global benchmark Brent crude futures traded 54 cents higher at $58.42 a barrel at 1242 GMT, just after reaching their highest level in three weeks at $58.49 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate light crude was up 20 cents at $52.07.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .miapj0000pus gained for a fifth day running to be up 0.3 percent, after USA stocks ended at record highs.

An escalating crisis between the Iraqi government and Kurdish separatists is threatening the supply of oil and could push up prices, analysts warned on Tuesday. There were unconfirmed reports that Kurdish forces had shut around 350,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil production from major fields. The fighting in one of Iraq's main oil-producing areas helped to restore a risk premium on oil prices, though officials said that oil fields in the region were operating normally. U.S. President Donald Trump last week refused to certify Iran's compliance over a nuclear deal, leaving Congress 60 days to decide further action against Tehran.

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Tension between the United States and Iran is also rising, increasing the global risk premium for oil.

"These issues (Iraq and Iran) remind us oil and geopolitics are very much inter-linked and it will remain so... oil security remains a critical issue for all the countries", Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency said in a statement.

Oil prices traded higher Wednesday, supported by ongoing political tensions in the Middle East.

In an otherwise typically quiet Monday market, the price of Crude Oil is up nearly 1.7% since this week's open, as at the time of writing.

If no other countries support the US push for more sanctions, Iran's production is unlikely to drop by 1 million bpd, according to Goldman.

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Birol said the rate of compliance by OPEC and its partners in their targeted cutting of about 1.8 million bbl/d between January this year and March 2018 was about 86%.

The euro slipped 0.2 percent to $1.1799 and was poised for its third straight day of losses on lingering concerns about the eurozone after a conservative Austrian leader secured a victory in parliamentary elections at the weekend.

The dollar bounced back to 112.07 yen, from Monday's low of 111.65, which was its lowest since September 26.

Oil tanker is seen at sunset anchored off the Fos-Lavera oil hub near Marseille, France, October 5, 2017.

The American Petroleum Institute (API), an industry trade group, will release USA weekly petroleum inventory data at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT), ahead of the government's report on Wednesday.

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