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Oil Slides in Late Trading on U.S. Inventory Concerns

Oil Slides in Late Trading  on U.S. Inventory Concerns

Oil prices closed slightly higher after easing from multi-year highs reached early in the previous day, propped up by worries that U.S. sanctions on Iran will likely curb crude exports from one of the biggest Middle East producers.

The U.S. announced that it will impose sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, increasing concerns that markets will experience shortages later this year when the trade restrictions begin to squeeze markets.

Brent crude traded at $78.43 per barrel, 0.3 percent or 20 cents higher after hitting an intraday high of $79.47 per barrel, up $1.24 and its peak since November 2014.

U.S. light crude settled 35 cents or 0.5 percent, up at $71.31 per barrel, also hovering near the day's peak at $71.92, its highest since November 2014.

Prices retreated in post-settlement trade after trade group American Petroleum Institute reported crude stockpiles increased by almost 5 million barrels, against analysts' estimates for a 763, 000-barrel decline. U.S. crude declined 6 cents to $70.90 per barrel, while Brent edged down 22 cents to $78.01.

Official data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration will be published on Wednesday.

The spread between the two crude benchmarks briefly widened to over $8 per barrel, the widest difference between April 2015, mirroring the increasing U.S. crude supplies and a greater geopolitical risk to Brent-based crudes.

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