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Crude oil futures lower on profit taking, US rig count rise

Crude oil futures were lower in mid-afternoon trade Asia Monday asinvestors booked profits after the air strikes on Syria led by the US, UK andFrance.

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Market participants were waiting to see how Russia reacted after USPresident Donald Trump's administration signaled it would impose new sanctionson Russia for supporting the Syrian regime.

At 2:28 pm Singapore time (0628 GMT), June ICE Brent crude futures weredown 70 cents (0.96%) from Friday's settle at $71.88/b, while the NYMEX Maylight sweet crude contract was down 56 cents (0.83%) at $66.83/b.

A daily candlestick chart seen by S&P Global Platts showed the ICEJune Brent Futures contract moving in a range of $1.12/b, touching an intradaylow of $71.73/b and intraday high of $72.85/b.

The NYMEX light sweet May contract was moving in a range of $1.10/b,between an intraday low of $66.64/b and intraday high of $67.74/b.

The number of active rigs in the US rose 7 to 815 last week, the secondconsecutive weekly rise, according to Baker Hughes data released lateFriday.

"Syria risk fatigue will likely set in today [Monday], we should expectsome profit-taking to occur," said Stephen Innes, APAC head of trading atOANDA. "Nevertheless, Middle East tensions and geopolitical risk remainincredibly high, suggesting the oil market risk premiums will stay in check asglobal oil supplies remain vulnerable to any significant supply disruption."

"Global political concerns look likely to remain a focus in the weekahead, so we should expect the markets to stay at the mercy of headline risk.However, so far the market is showing little appetite to chase risk assetshigher," Innes added. Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned of "chaos" if Syria were toface a subsequent air strike.

Vandana Hari, founder at Vanda Insights, said: "The fact that the Westernmissile strikes were completed without triggering wider military hostilitieswithin the region brought some relief to an oil market that had becomeprogressively tense towards the end of last week. Despite the calming oftensions around Syria, crude continues to carry considerable geopoliticalpremium."

"Russia is the world's largest crude producer and a key collaborator withOPEC in the ongoing supply cuts. Though its oil production has not beenaffected by Western sanctions imposed since its annexation of Crimea in early2014, several companies and financial institutions have stayed away frominvesting in the country for fear of attracting US ire," Hari added.

As of 0628 GMT, the US Dollar Index was 0.06% lower at 89.460.

--Jing Zhi Ng,

--Edited by Wendy Wells,