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Oil gains after Netanyahu says Iran lied after signing nuclear deal

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Oil prices rose on Monday, bouncing off early losses after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had proof that "Iran lied" about its nuclear capabilities, and that he was sure US President Donald Trump would do "the right thing" in reviewing the country's nuclear deal with western powers.

[NEW YORK] Oil prices rose on Monday, bouncing off early losses after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had proof that "Iran lied" about its nuclear capabilities, and that he was sure US President Donald Trump would do "the right thing" in reviewing the country's nuclear deal with western powers.

Prices of the Brent June contract, which expires Monday, gained 53 US cents to settle at US$75.17 a barrel. Prices for the more actively traded Brent July contact gained 90 US cents to settle at US$74.69.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were up 47 US cents on the day to settle at US$68.57 a barrel.

Earlier in the session, both benchmarks had been down about one per cent. Both started to gain after Netanyahu said he would soon have an announcement regarding Iran.

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Market voices on:

"Oil reacted very severely" to Mr Netanyahu's announcement, said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Oil prices jumped after Mr Netanyahu said Israel has evidence that Iran lied about its nuclear programme after signing the 2015 agreement with global powers.

Iran dismissed Mr Netanyahu's accusations, calling them "propaganda".

"Netanyahu may be the flavour of the day, but the larger issue driving this is what will Trump do with Iran? And what will Iran do in response? And that uncertainty is the fundamental driver, not so much Netanyahu," said Walter Zimmerman, chief technical analyst for United-ICAP.

Mr Trump has until May 12 to decide whether to restore sanctions on Iran that were lifted after the international agreement.

Oil prices have risen this month to their highest since late 2014, driven by concern over potential disruptions to Iranian crude flows. Analysts said the market is extremely sensitive to any developments on the nuclear deal and sanctions.

"Until May 12, you're not going to see any significant downward correction," PVM Oil Associates strategist Tamas Varga said.

"Reimposing US sanctions is not a foregone conclusion just yet."

Meanwhile, US crude production jumped 260,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 10.26 million bpd in February, the highest on record, the Energy Information Administration said in a monthly report on Monday.

In the latest development in the US shale boom, Marathon Petroleum Corp agreed to buy rival Andeavor for more than US$23 billion. The largest-ever tie-up between US refiners will give the combined company a nationwide presence and increased access to growing export markets.

The deal gives Marathon more exposure to US shale, thanks to Andeavor's existing logistics and terminal operations in Texas and North Dakota shale regions.

REUTERS