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Oil prices down on ebbing supply fears

SINGAPORE -- Oil prices fell in Asia Tuesday on easing concerns about supply disruptions arising out of conflicts in Ukraine and Iraq, analysts said.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September delivery eased 33 cents to US$97.75 while Brent crude for September was down 38 cents to US$104.30 in afternoon trade.

Singapore's United Overseas Bank said investors are taking “a more optimistic view on Ukraine and Iraq although developments in these troubled regions remain on their radar.”

In Iraq, the OPEC cartel's number-two producer, U.S. airstrikes that began last week have buoyed Kurdish forces who are battling to turn the tide on two months of expansion in the north by Islamic State extremists.

Investors also cheered President Fuad Masum's acceptance of Haidar al-Abadi as the embattled country's next prime minister, in place of the much-criticized Nuri al-Maliki.

The jihadists have overrun forces controlled by al-Maliki's government in the country's north and west, and have declared a “caliphate” in those areas.

Disruptions in supply to neighboring Turkey and Jordan have hit Iraq hard as it is heavily dependent on oil revenues while spending more to battle the Islamic State.

In Ukraine, concerns have eased about a Russian invasion into east Ukraine. Moscow said Monday a humanitarian convoy it is dispatching into the conflict-torn zone will not involve its military.

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