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Oil prices stabilise in subdued trade

LONDON, April 27, 2007 (AFP) – World oil prices steadied on Friday in muted trade ahead of the weekend, dealers said.

In London, the price of Brent North Sea crude for June delivery eased one cent to 67.64 dollars per barrel in electronic trading.

LONDON, April 27, 2007 (AFP) – World oil prices steadied on Friday in muted trade ahead of the weekend, dealers said.

In London, the price of Brent North Sea crude for June delivery eased one cent to 67.64 dollars per barrel in electronic trading.

New York’s main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June, rose 16 cents to 65.22 dollars per barrel in electronic deals before the official open of the US market.

"Crude futures were almost unchanged today in sideways trading in the absence of any major fundamental news," said Michael Davies, an analyst at the Sucden brokerage in London.

"The market seems to be consolidating before the weekend."
Oil prices had retreated Thursday on signs that Iran and the European Union had made progress in nuclear talks, traders said.

Iran is the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter. Traders fear that Western pressure over Iran’s disputed nuclear program could prompt the Islamic republic to cut crude exports in retaliation.

Western nations fear that Iran is trying to make a nuclear bomb — but Iran contends that its nuclear program is for peaceful energy production.

Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani said Thursday that talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana had made progress towards a "united view" on ending the crisis over Tehran’s refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
Davies added: "Worries surrounding Iran’s controversial nuclear programme have eased slightly, limiting gains."

Elsewhere, traders are tracking the fall-out from the recent presidential elections in Nigeria, which is Africa’s biggest crude oil producer.

"There is a lot of uncertainty right now," said Calyon analyst Mike Wittner regarding ongoing unrest in Nigeria following polls last weekend.

Nigeria’s current production is down an estimated 25 percent owing to violence in the crude-rich Niger Delta.
However, oil price losses were capped this week by concerns over weak US gasoline reserves heading into the peak-demand season for motor fuel, when the driving season starts next month in the United States.

The US Department of Energy had said that motor fuel reserves sank by 2.8 million barrels in the week ending April 20.

That marked the 11th consecutive weekly drop for gasoline inventories and compared with market expectations for a lighter fall of just 500,000 barrels.
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