Crude futures point lower for Asia

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Crude oil prices pointed lower for Asia on Monday as data last week showed a dip in price expectations.

ICE Brent was quoted down 0.21 percent to US$75.66 a barrel, while NYMEX West Texas Intermediate was down 0.15 percent to US$68.62 a barrel. Last week, Brent futures settled up 1.5 percent to US$75.82 a barrel, a gain of 5.3 percent on week, while WTI gained 1.3 percent to US$68.72 a barrel, an increase of just over 4 percent on the week.

Bullish bets on oil futures and options in London and New York fell by 15,723 contracts to 341,132 in the week to Aug. 21, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on Friday.

Elsewhere, U.S. drillers cut oil rigs by 9 last week to 860, Baker Hughes said on Friday. Simmons & Co. this week forecast average total oil and natural gas rig count would rise from 876 in 2017 to 1,031 in 2018, 1,092 in 2019 and 1,227 in 2020. A total of 1,044 oil and gas rigs are currently in service.

At the weekend, U.S.-Iran tensions boiled up anew as Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday that America is waging a psychological war against Iran and its business partners. The Trump administration decided in May to abandon a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and is reimposing sanctions on Tehran set to take full effect in early November.

Iran’s parliament sacked the minister of economic affairs and finance on Sunday, state media said, amid a sharp fall in the rial currency and a deterioration in the economic situation. The economy faces high unemployment and the rial has lost half its value since April.

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