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Crude oil futures fall as traders pause after Iran sanctions rally

Singapore — Crude oil futures declined in mid-morning Asia trading Friday as traders paused after this week's rally on the US ending sanctions waivers for buyers of Iranian crude.

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At 10:35 am Singapore time (0235 GMT), the June ICE Brent crude oil futures fell 17 cents/b (0.23%) from Thursday's settle to $74.18/b, while the NYMEX June light sweet crude contract dropped 34 cents/b (0.52%) to $64.87/b.

Brent futures are 3.36% higher for this week through Thrusday after the White House announced Monday that the US would end all waivers from Iran oil sanctions when they expire May 2.

"Oil bulls will probably be in no rush, and may be more cautious," Vizhnu Varathan, senior economist at Mizuho Bank, said. Brent will probably trade between $65-80/b for now, he said.

The US Administration on Thursday said that the world has enough oil to keep the market stable and that Washington would step up efforts to work with producers and Asian importers to ensure a smooth transition away from Iranian barrels.

"As we look ahead at the impact on the oil and energy markets, we have been very careful and deliberate on how we go about this to ensure market stability. And over the last couple of days, I think we have seen that borne out, that energy markets will remain stable," said Brian Hook, US Special Representative for Iran, in a press call.

The combined US oil and natural gas rig count fell by 10 to 1,066 this week, S&P Global Platts Analytics data showed Thursday.

The decline pushed the total number of active rigs to the lowest level seen since January 2018, and down 13.5% from the recent high of 1,233 in mid-November. The number of active oil rigs fell by eight to 846, a 14-month low, Platts Analytics data showed.

Official data on last week's US oil and gas rig count is due for release from Baker Hughes later Friday.

As of 0235 GMT, the US Dollar Index was down 0.05% at 97.84.

--Avantika Ramesh, avantika.ramesh@spglobal.com

--Edited by Claudia Carpenter, claudia.carpenter@spglobal.com