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Front-month Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were at $74.50 per barrel at 0651 GMT, down 15 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close.

"There is room for [prices in] the crude market to soften a bit more", says John Woods of JJ Woods Associates, adding that inventories could rise further as refineries head toward maintenance season after the summer driving season.

One of Iran's biggest oil customers is buying more USA crude.

US crude stockpiles were expected to have dropped 3.3 million barrels last week.

The White House said in a statement Monday that the United States will reactivate a slew of sanctions on Iran's financial and industrial sectors beginning on Tuesday. Iran's oil exports to India rose by more than 40,000 b/d from June to 706,452 b/d in July. Affecting the demand side is the placing of tariffs on US crude imports by China.

"Past instances of El Nino have resulted in sharp drops in U.S. residential and commercial heating oil demand and prices", it said.

"We view that it is very unlikely that the USA administration will be successful in reducing Iranian exports to zero", analysts at MUFG said in a note on Wednesday.

The trade war is rattling global markets.

Indian Oil agreed to buy 6 million barrels of USA crude through the term-tender, taking its American crude purchases to 16 million barrels in total since April.

Tourist plane crashes in Swiss Alps, 20 dead
The crash happened hours after a family of four were killed when their small plane went down further west in the Swiss Alps. The plane was operated by Ju-Air, a Swiss company that offers tours with vintage former Swiss military aircraft.

US crude stocks fell last week, while gasoline and distillate inventories rose, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude oil continues to rise bullish as traders remained anxious over revived USA sanctions against major crude exporter Iran.

"Crude oil prices rose as the reality of USA sanctions on Iran weighed on sentiment".

However, many European countries, China and India, oppose the sanctions, but the United States government said it wants as many countries as possible to stop buying Iranian oil.

Under the arrangement, Iran's oil payments were deposited into accounts in oil-importing countries and used by Tehran to buy goods. Earlier today, crude oil sold off after it was announced that Saudi Arabia has resumed oil shipments through the Red Sea shipping line of Bab al-Mandeb over the weekend.

Meanwhile, EIA reported surprising build of 2.9 million barrels of gasoline while the market's expectation was 1.1 million barrels of draw. It has not said when it will impose the tariffs. A weekly report by the Energy Information Administration, scheduled to be released at 10:30 a.m. ET, is expected to show a drawdown in U.S. inventories.

International Olympic Committee will buy 2 million barrels of Mars oil in November, a combination cargo containing 1 million barrels each of Eagle Ford and Mars in December and 2 million barrels of Louisiana Light Sweet (LLS) in January, Sharma said.

Further out, Weekly Distillate Stocks rose by 1.230 mbpd and Gasoline inventories unexpectedly increased by 2.900 mbpd.


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