China shipowners stop hauling Iranian oil as U.S. sanctions near

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West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $67.90 per barrel, up 4 cents from their last settlement, buoyed by the decline in United States crude inventories.

Oil prices rose 3%, with Brent crude futures hitting a three-week high. The actual report was a build rather than a draw due to higher than normal crude oil inputs to the refineries. The port district of Houston-Galveston accounted for 12 percent of total US crude oil imports as of May.

The global benchmark for crude oil, Brent International's futures contract for October delivery was trading at $72.60 per barrel, which was an increase of $0.39 cents.

In US oil markets, a decline in commercial crude inventories provided WTI with stronger support than Brent.

USA commercial crude oil inventories C-STK-T-EIA fell 5.8 million barrels last week, the EIA said on Wednesday, more than three times forecasts.

Concerns also remain over how much oil will be removed from global markets by renewed sanctions on Iran, despite worries that demand growth could weaken amid a trade disputes between the United States and China, the world's two biggest economies.

Distillate fuel oil supplied over the last four-week period averaged 3.90 million barrels per day, down by 7.7 percent from the same period previous year.

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A weaker dollar makes oil less expensive for buyers using other currencies.

Moreover, oil-tanker owners are seen staying away from hauling Iranian supplies because of the risk of being cut off from the booming business of transporting crude pumped from shale fields in Texas or wells in the Gulf of Mexico.

The American Petroleum Institute reported USA crude stocks fell last week by 5.2 million barrels, more than three times the decline analysts expected.

"The Iran issue continues to occupy traders' minds", said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.

Concerns that an escalating trade war between China and the US could slow economic growth and weigh on crude purchases eased slightly after sources told Reuters that China's Unipec will resume purchases of USA crude oil in October, after a two-month halt due to the fight.

U.S. and Chinese officials were set to resume talks on Wednesday, but Trump said he expected there will be no real progress.

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