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Oil Prices Steady At $65.43

Crude oil futures edged up on Monday as firm global demand vied with a strong dollar, but a public holiday in the United States and much of Europe kept trading muted.

Front-month Brent crude gained 6 cents to $65.43 a barrel by 1400 GMT, after touching an intraday low of $64.72. U.S. crude was down 30 cents at $59.42 a barrel, after reaching $59.10 earlier in the session. The market drew support from figures showing strong demand across Asia and the United States.

“Global oil demand continues to surprise to the upside, with April data showing no signs of slowdown despite a pick-up in prices,” Energy Aspects said in a note.

Japan’s customs-cleared crude oil imports rose 9.1 percent year-on- year to 3.62 million barrels per day (bpd) in April, the Finance Ministry said. In China, crude imports hit a record 7.4 million bpd last month, with healthy car sales countering a slowing economy. In the United States, the peak summer driving season started with Memorial Day on Monday, and the American Auto- mobile Association said road travel was expected to reach a 10-year high over the Memorial Day weekend.

The dollar pared early gains but remained near two-month highs against the euro and yen as well as a one-month peak against a basket of currencies. A strong dollar makes crude oil less attractive for holders of other currencies.

“The overall fundamentals still point to a well-supplied market, a fact that should continue to put a ceiling on prices,” Barclays said.

Iran plans to raise its oil output by 170,000 bpd by March 2016, the official IRNA news agency cited an Iranian oil official as saying.

Iran, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), aims to boost crude exports by up to 1 million bpd if Tehran and six major powers finalize a nuclear agreement by a June 30 deadline. Unrest in the Middle East intensified on Monday as Islamic State poured fighters into the western Iraqi city of Ramadi.

In oil exporter Libya, warplanes from the official government attacked an oil tanker docked outside the city of Sirte on Sunday, wound- ing three people and setting the ship on fire, officials said.

It was the third confirmed strike by the internationally recognized government on oil tankers, part of a conflict between competing administrations and parliaments allied to armed factions fighting for control of the country.

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