Oil prices close mixed amid lower U.S. inventories, Iran-West tensions

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NEW YORK, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Oil prices settled mixed on Wednesday, as investors digested a marked fall in U.S. crude inventories last week and closely followed up on the geopolitical tensions between Iran and the West.

The West Texas Intermediate for October delivery decreased 0.45 U.S. dollar to settle at 55.68 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for October delivery rose 0.27 dollar to close at 60.30 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

For the week ending Aug. 16, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories decreased by 2.7 million barrels from the previous week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday.

At 437.8 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories were about two percent above the five-year average for this time of year.

Maria Luiza Viotti, United Nations chef de cabinet, called for "restraint and genuine dialogue" to avoid major confrontation in the Middle East at a Security Council meeting on Tuesday.

"The series of incidents in the Strait of Hormuz and adjacent waterways have raised tensions to dangerous levels," she said, adding that "it is crucial that the rights and duties related to navigation are respected in accordance with international law."

Iran's Foreign Ministry on Monday warned against any attempt by the United States to seize the Iranian oil tanker released on Aug. 15 by the order of Gibraltar Supreme Court after 42 days in detention.

The oil tanker was detained in July off the coast of the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar by Royal Marines on suspicion of attempting to carry oil to Syria "in breach of EU sanctions," charges denied by the Iranian government. Enditem

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