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Crude oil lower to start week in US; ICE Brent still above $70/b

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Crude oil lower to start week in US; ICE Brent still above $70/b


The oil complex was lower in US morning trading Monday, pulling back from lastweek when a rally lifted crude futures to highs last seen in late January whenfront-month contracts reached three-year highs.

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At 1439 GMT, NYMEX May crude was 31 cents lower at $65.57/b. ICE May Brent was28 cents lower at $70.17/b.

NYMEX April ULSD was down 31 points at $2.0153/gal. NYMEX April RBOB was 1.61cents lower at $2.0175/gal.

Tightening US petroleum inventories and turnover in US foreign policy postsprovided bullish catalysts last week.

President Donald Trump's appointment of John Bolton as his new nationalsecurity adviser, along with the firing of Rex Tillerson as US Secretary ofState, raise the odds of a US exit from the Iran nuclear deal next month,according to analysts.

"Will we get the same loss of Iranian exports on a unilateral [US] movecompared to a multilateral deal on sanctions, possibly not, but it adds to theuncertainty," senior oil analyst at BNP Paribas Harry Tchilinguirian said.

Trump faces a May 12 deadline for the US to waive oil-related sanctions onTehran as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

"At the end of the day, we feel that excess geopolitical risk premium hasbeen injected into the market and that much of this pop in risk appetite couldeasily be erased during the next few weeks," consultant Jim Ritterbusch said.

"But we also concede that the geopolitical risk premium has improved the crudechart picture while enticing the money managers back into the long side ofboth WTI and Brent in potentially setting both markets up for another round ofrecord length," he said in a note.

Trading began Monday in a crude oil futures contract listed on the ShanghaiInternational Energy Exchange (INE), part of the Chinese government's effortsto establish a benchmark closer to home.

The front-month September contract closed at Yuan 429.9/b ($68.03/b), whichwas 3% higher than at the open.

At 3 pm in Singapore (0700 GMT), Shanghai September crude was $4.06 aboveNYMEX September crude in electronic trading and 26 cents lower than ICESeptember Brent.

The September contract attracted the bulk of liquidity. Total volume equaled42,336 lots, of which 40,656 lots changed hands for the September contract,according to data from the INE website.

Five monthly contracts traded Monday for delivery in September, October,November, December 2018 and January 2019.

In addition, five quarterly contracts traded for delivery in the quartersended March, June, September, December 2019 and June 2020.

--Geoffrey Craig,

--Edited by Jonathan Dart,