Investing.com - Crude oil prices held steady gains in Asia on Monday with Iraq tensions squarely in focus for any impact on oil exports from the country and the region.
Sources quoted in news reports at the weekend said that Iran and the United States will discuss the sectarian tensions this week as part of broader talks about Tehran''s nuclear program.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, U.S. crude oil for delivery in July traded at $106.65 a barrel, up 0.45%.
Last week West Texas Intermediate and Brent oil futures both rallied to the highest levels since September 2013 on the escalating tensions in Iraq underlined concerns over a disruption to supplies from the Middle East.
On the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for August delivery hit a daily high of $114.07 a barrel on Friday, before trimming gains to settle at $112.46, up 0.04%, or 4 cents.
Oil traders continued to track a rebellion in Iraq led by a Sunni Islamist group that threatened to take Baghdad after capturing key cities elsewhere in the country earlier in the week.
Concerns over the ongoing Sunni insurgency in Iraq remain and are affecting the broad investment markets because of the potential to disrupt oil flow and spark wider clashes in the region, particularly among the Shite and Sunni branches of Islam. Iran is Iraq''s neighbor, though the two countries fought a bitter war through much of the 1990s.
Iraq produced approximately 3.5 million barrels a day of oil last month, making it OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer behind Saudi Arabia.
Elsewhere, in the U.S., data released Friday showed that that U.S. consumer sentiment unexpectedly deteriorated in June.
The preliminary reading of the University of Michigan''s consumer sentiment index for June came in at 81.2, down from 81.9 in May, missing expectations for an uptick to 83.0.
In the week ahead, investors will be focusing on the outcome of Wednesday’s Federal Reserve policy meeting.
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