US Unlikely to Get Tough on Iran before November

Media: Japan halts imports of oil from Iran

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up 29 cents, or 0.4 per cent, at $69.79 a barrel.

Brent crude futures rose 74 cents to settle at $72.90 a barrel, a one percent gain.

Meanwhile, determined to prevent the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) from causing what Trump views as artificial and undue price inflation by removing crude supplies from the market, US senator Chuck Grassley, along with a fellow republican and two democratic lawmakers, have introduced legislation in the Senate that will allow Washington to bring lawsuits against OPEC members for antitrust violations.

He also said concerns that Saudi Arabia and its partners are moving to oversupply the market substantially are "without basis".

The rapid slide is surprising as it comes amid disruptions in Canada and Libya, growing unrest in Iraq's oil-producing heartland of southern Basra and the threat to Iranian exports from looming U.S. sanctions. Prices, which had strengthened on news of Saudi Arabia's planned export cuts, fell as the market's focus returned to potential oversupply as Saudi Arabia, Russia and other major producers continue to lift output.

Trade tension between the United States and China could drag on the global economy, BMI Research said.

That had largely managed to offset a range of supply threats across the market, including the Norwegian strike and unstable Libyan supply, but the market was still left weighing the long-term risks of falling Venezuelan output, and how far the ripple effects of the US' sanctions on Iran will reach.

Crude prices pulled back from highs earlier in the session as traders cashed in on profits, said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management in NY.

Gasoline inventories fell by 3.2 million barrels (MMBbl), while distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 371,000 Bbls, EIA data showed.

Following a massive global supply glut, prices had been propped up in recent months by a production cap agreement led by oil cartel OPEC and Russian Federation, but this has since been scaled back.

Iran in turn urged U.S. President Donald Trump not to tap the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to bring oil prices down, but drop the sanctions against Tehran instead.

U.S. crude stocks rose by 5.8-million barrels last week, compared with a forecast of a decline of 3.6-million barrels.

Oil prices came under pressure on Friday from U.S. USA crude prices had reached a session high of $70.17 earlier in the trading day.

News Wednesday of strong United States demand for gasoline and distillates gave the price only a brief boost. The country has added almost 1-million barrels a day in production since November, thanks to rapid increases in shale drilling.

However, comments by Saudi Arabia's Energy Ministry, pledging not to flood world markets with oil, turned the momentum around on Thursday and helped the commodity to rebound sharply from an intraday low level of $66.62.

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