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Crude oil futures lower on bearish API data, fading geopolitical risk

Singapore — Crude oil futures were lower during mid-morning trade in Asia Wednesday following the release of the US' crude inventory report for last week and President Donald Trump's speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, which suggests that the US is only looking to increase sanctions on Iran as opposed to pursuing military retaliation as previously indicated.

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At 11:00 am in Singapore (0300 GMT), ICE Brent November crude futures fell 44 cents/b (0.70%) from Tuesday's settle to $62.66/b, while the front-month NYMEX November light sweet crude futures contract moved 35 cents/b (0.61%) lower at $56.94/b.

According to analysts reports quoting data released by the American Petroleum Institute out Tuesday, US crude inventory for the week ended September 20 rose 1.4 million barrels.

The API also reportedly showed a 1.9 million-barrel increase in gasoline stocks, while distillate inventories fell by 2.2 million barrels, analysts said.

Analysts surveyed Monday by S&P Global Platts were looking for US crude stocks over the same period to have declined 190,000 barrels.

Definitive data on last week's US inventory report is due for release from the US Energy Information Administration later Wednesday.

The EIA on Tuesday released its Short Term Energy outlook in which it said that the US pumped a record 12.43 million b/d of crude in August.

Globally, EIA sees oil production rising to 127 million b/d in 2050, up 30% from 2018 levels, with OPEC growth of 37% outpacing non-OPEC growth of 23%.

Meanwhile, the risk premium that pushed crude prices up by more than $10/b early last week post-attacks on Saudi crude production seems to have cooled with the US not looking at military action against Iran, which it has blamed for the attacks.

US President Donald Trump, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, took aim at the "repressive regime" in Iran, highlighting US sanctions, which he said would only be strengthened.

"As long as Iran's menacing behavior continues, sanctions will not be lifted, they will be tightened," Trump said.

Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group, said Trump's UN speech indicated military retaliation against Iran looked less likely, adding to the downward movement in oil futures prices.

"Despite the lingering uncertainty on the pace of recovery in Saudi Arabia's production capacity, we believe its inventory buffer is sufficiently large to help accommodate further delays, should recent concerns prove accurate," analysts from Goldman Sachs said in a note.

Global markets took a hit on Tuesday on news that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will announce an impeachment inquiry into Trump over his dealings with Ukraine.

"The announcement of an impeachment inquiry into the US President adds a twist for Asian markets following the wavering of markets over US-China trade. Sentiment across the region looks set to take another hit with this latest political development, " IG's market strategist Pan Jingyi said.

As of 0300 GMT, the US Dollar Index was up 0.16% at 98.08.

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

-- Edited by Norazlina Juma'at, norazlina.jumaat@spglobal.com