* U.S. crude inventories drop below 400 million barrels -EIA
* Looming U.S. sanctions against Iran keep Brent near $80
By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Oil prices slipped on Thursday,
although U.S. crude remained above $70 a barrel on the back of falling
crude inventories and Brent was still close to $80 because of looming
sanctions against Iran.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $70.19
per barrel at 0024 GMT, down 18 cents from their last settlement.
Brent crude futures dipped 11 cents to $79.63 a barrel.
Brent rose above $80 per barrel the previous session for the first
time since May, spurred by expectations that U.S. sanctions against
Iran's oil exports, which will start in November, will tighten global
U.S. crude inventories fell 5.3 million barrels in the week to
Sept. 7 to 396.2 million barrels, the lowest since February 2015 and
about 3 percent below the five-year average for this time of year, the
U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its weekly report
Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures
brokerage Oanda in Singapore, said crude inventory data for last week
showed "a much deeper drop than analyst's expectations ...
propelling Brent briefly above the fundamental and psychological $80 a
barrel for the first time since May, and was equally as supportive for
the WTI contract."
U.S. crude oil production fell by 100,000 barrels per day
(bpd), to 10.9 million bpd.
Innes said the slight dips on Thursday came as rising refined
product inventories, which the EIA also reported, "slightly
dampened market overexuberance" as it indicated that U.S. fuel
demand may be weakening.
Gasoline stocks rose 1.3 million barrels, while distillate
stockpiles , which include diesel and heating oil, climbed by 6.2
million barrels, the EIA data showed.
Overall, however, Innes said "the confluence of bullish
near-term signals (of) Iran sanctions and sinking U.S. crude
inventories should keep oil prices supported for the remainder of the
GRAPHIC: Iran oil exports to Asia
(Reporting by Henning Gloystein Editing by Joseph Radford)
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