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JUST IN: Oil prices drop amid demand worries

Oil fell on Tuesday amid concerns over the outlook for crude demand, but prices were supported after Washington announced new sanctions on Iran amid mounting tensions in the Middle East.

Benchmark Brent crude futures were down 34 cents or 0.5 per cent at 64.52 dollars a barrel by 0639 GMT.

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They dropped 0.5 per cent on Monday.

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U.S. crude futures were down 24 cents or 0.4 per cent at 57.66 dollar a barrel. The U.S. benchmark rose 0.8 per cent in the previous session.

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Brent climbed five per cent last week and U.S. crude surged 10 per cent after Iran shot down a U.S. drone on Thursday in the Gulf, adding to tensions stoked by attacks on oil tankers in the area in May and June.

Washington has blamed the tanker attacks on Iran, which denies having any role.

U.S. President Donald Trump targeted Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other top Iranian officials with sanctions on Monday, taking an unprecedented step to increase pressure on Iran after Tehran’s downing of the drone.

“This would appear to effectively rule out any talks or negotiations to end the crisis,” said Tom O’Sullivan, founder of energy and security consultancy Mathyos Advisory.

Trump also said on Twitter that other countries should protect their own oil shipping in the Middle East rather than have the United States protect them. (Reuters/NAN)

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