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NYMEX-U.S. crude gains on Iraq unrest, U.S. stocks fall

SEOUL, June 18 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil futures rose in early Asian trade on Wednesday, as tension in Iraq cast doubt on the OPEC member's oil growth targets and U.S. crude stocks fell more than expected.

FUNDAMENTALS

* U.S. July crude gained 20 cents to $106.56 a barrel as of 0010 GMT after it ended 54 cents down at $106.36 a barrel in the previous session. The U.S. July contract expires on June 20.

* Brent crude for August delivery lost 20 cent at $113.25 a barrel. It settled 51 cents higher at $113.45 per barrel.

* The United States put the onus on Iraqis to defeat a Sunni insurgency on Tuesday as President Barack Obama prepared to meet leaders of the U.S. Congress to discuss the onslaught in Iraq.

* Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki broadcast a joint appeal for national unity on Tuesday with bitter Sunni critics of his Shi'ite-led government - a move that may help him win U.S. help against rampant Islamists threatening Baghdad.

* Some oil companies are pulling foreign staff from Iraq, fearing Sunni militants from the north could strike at major oilfields concentrated in the Shi'ite south despite moves by the Baghdad government to tighten security.

* Iraqi officials say the southern regions that produce some 90 percent of the country's oil are completely safe from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has seized much of the north in a week as Baghdad's forces there collapsed.

* Iraq's oil growth targets look increasingly at risk, the International Energy Agency said, highlighting the growing threats to supplies from political instability and violence in OPEC members just as demand is picking up due to a stronger global economy.

* Iraq will need to import about half its oil product needs, more than 300,000 barrels per day, after the country's largest refinery at Baiji closed due to recent violence, a senior Iraqi oil official said on Tuesday.

* Iran and six world powers re-launched talks on Tuesday to rescue prospects for a deal on Tehran's nuclear activity by a July deadline, striving to prevent a long-time standoff from descending into a wider Middle East war.

* Britain said on Tuesday it would re-open its embassy in Iran "within months," after a hiatus of more than two and a half years, a diplomatic breakthrough that underscores the West's desire to secure Tehran's help in Iraq and elsewhere.

* U.S. crude stocks fell last week as refineries cut output, while gasoline inventories decreased and distillate stocks built, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed on Tuesday.

* Crude inventories fell by 5.7 million barrels in the week to 378.2 million, compared with analysts' expectations for a decrease of 650,000 barrels. Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 255,000 barrels, API said.

MARKETS NEWS

* The dollar edged up and U.S. Treasuries prices fell on Tuesday as rising U.S. inflation drove speculation that the Federal Reserve, which is meeting this week, may raise interest rates sooner than global investors have been expecting.

* Wall Street stocks rose modestly, as investors shrugged off the turmoil in Iraq and kept an eye on the Fed as it began its two-day policy meeting.

DATA/EVENTS

* The following data is expected on Wednesday: (Time in GMT)

DATA/EVENTS AHEAD (GMT)

0130 China House prices May

1230 U.S. Current account Q1

1800 Federal Reserve announces outcome of policy meeting

1830 Fed Chair Janet Yellen holds news briefing

(Reporting by Meeyoung Cho)