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ASIA CRUDE OIL: Key market indicators for Aug 15-19

Crude oil prices were under downward pressure early in the Aug. 15-19 trading week due to profit-taking amid a lack of fresh cues, with analysts saying higher than expected supply from both Russia and the US was adding to the uncertainty over the longer-term price outlook.

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The front-month ICE October Brent crude futures stood at $97.42/b at 0220 GMT Aug. 15, down 73 cents/b (0.74%) from the Aug. 12 settlement.

Middle East

** Trade activity for October-loading crude was expected to increase in the Aug. 15-19 trading week after the release of official selling prices by Middle Eastern producers and term allocations by Saudi Aramco.

** Qatar Energy has issued its monthly tender offering two 500,000-barrel cargoes each of Al-Shaheen and Qatar Land crudes, as well as one cargo of Qatar Marine crude.

** The spread between light sour Middle East grades such as Murban and medium sour grades has continued to narrow to date in August amid pressure from arbitrage crudes such as WTI Midland.

** The Dubai cash/futures (M1/M3) averaged $5.44/b in the week ending Aug. 12, narrowing from $6.21/b in the previous week ended Aug. 5.

** Intermonth spreads were wider in mid-morning trade in Asia Aug. 15, with October/November pegged at $1.32/b, down 10 cents/b from the previous Asian close.

** The October Brent/Dubai Exchange of Futures for Swaps was pegged at $6.39/b in mid-morning trade in Asia Aug. 15, down 38 cents/b from the Aug. 12 Asian close.

Asia-Pacific

** Market participants were waiting for trading activity for Australia's North West Shelf condensate to kick off amid thin demand as sentiment remain bogged down by lukewarm light distillate cracks.

** Tender results for October-loading barrels of Qatar's low sulfur condensate were expected to emerge later this week.

** Across the light sweet crude complex, market participants were awaiting the release of October-loading programs for Australia's Ichthys field condensate, Cossack and Papua New Guinea's Kutubu Blend.

** The October-loading program for Malaysia's flagship Kimanis crude was also expected this week; cash differentials for medium sweet grades in Southeast Asia were expected to lose steam this month amid retreating cracks.

** Tender results from Vietnam's PetroVietnam Oil for October-loading barrels of Chim Sao, Ruby and Bunga Kekwa crude are awaited.

** For heavy sweet crudes, clarity on trading activity for September-loading barrels of Sudan/South Sudan's Dar Blend were expected to emerge this week.

Delivered

** Cash premiums for US WTI Midland crude for November delivery to Asia were expected to dip following the US' SPR release.

** Market sentiment for Asia-delivered barrels of Brazilian crude was weak amid tepid demand fundamentals.

Crude futures

** The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index rose to 55.1 for August from 51.5 for July in data released Aug. 12, in a sign that recovery in the US economy remained on track.

** The October contract for ICE Brent futures rose 3.4% on the week to settle at $98.15/b Aug. 12, while the September contract for NYMEX light sweet crude was 3.5% higher at $92.09/b.