Crude ends on a down note as Iraq fears wane

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Crude was little changed in choppy trading on Friday as investors moved to square positions after Brent posted one of its biggest weekly falls this year, on reduced concerns over exports from strife-torn Iraq.

Prices have dropped more than $2 from a nine-month high of $115.71 hit on June 19 as output from Iraq's southern oilfields - which produce most of the nation's 3.3 million barrels per day (bpd) - remained unaffected by fighting in the north and west. If fighting between Sunni militants and Iraq government forces is contained in regions north of Baghdad then the chance of supply disruptions will shrink, risk analysts said.

Libya's eastern oil port of Hariga completed the loading of a tanker carrying 600,000 barrels of crude oil destined for Italy on Friday after a protest by security guards ended, the port operator said, further easing supply worries on the world market.

US oil exports premature: Pro
US oil exports premature: Pro

Brent crude traded near $113 a barrel after falling 79 cents in the previous session. It has lost more than 1 percent this week. U.S. crude fell 10 cents to settle at $105.74 a barrel, its the lowest settlement since mid June.

"Two weeks after the beginning of the latest chapter in the history of modern-era Iraq, only an actual disruption to supply would trigger (major) buying in the oil market," said David Hufton, managing director of London brokerage PVM Oil Associates.

Investors are still watching how the fight for control of Iraq's largest refinery, the 300,000-bpd Baiji complex, unfolds. Also weighing on crude was news that Libya's oil output has risen to 300,000 bpd after the El Feel oilfield in the southwest increased production.

Weaker-than-expected U.S. data was also negative for oil. U.S. consumer spending rose less than forecast in May, prompting economists to downgrade estimates for second-quarter growth, muddying the outlook for demand in the world's top consumer of oil.

--By Reuters. For more information on commodities, please click here.