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June 23, 2017

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Oil prices edge higher as eyes on US air strikes on militants in Iraq

SINGAPORE--Oil prices rose in Asia Monday as dealers monitor sustained U.S. air strikes on extremist militants in Iraq who are threatening the crude-rich Kurdish region, analysts said.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September delivery rose 25 cents to US$97.90 while Brent crude for September gained six cents to US$105.08 in afternoon trade.

Iraq's Kurdish peshmerga forces on Sunday reclaimed two towns from Islamic State fighters, buoyed by three days of U.S. air strikes to stem the jihadist advance.

"Investors take comfort in the knowledge that insurgents will be contained in northern Iraq, away from the oil fields in Kurdistan," said Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore.

Iraq's oil ministry on July 24 said crude exports totaled 2.42 million barrels per day in June, falling far short of a budgeted projection of 3.4 million bpd.

As the number-two producer in the OPEC cartel, Iraq's 11 percent of proven world reserves plays a key role on world markets and prices after violence disrupted oil exports from Syria and Libya.

The dip in exports adds to the woes of Iraq, which is heavily dependent on oil revenues while spending more on military equipment to battle the Islamic State group.

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