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Oil Prices Steady as Russia Eases Fuel Export Ban

LONDON, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Oil prices held steady on Monday after Russia relaxed its fuel ban, taking the edge off earlier gains on a tighter supply outlook and wariness over interest rates that could curb demand.

Brent crude futures were up 17 cents, or 0.18%, at $93.44 a barrel by 1133 GMT after settling 3 cents lower on Friday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 7 cents, or 0.08%, at $90.10.

Russia approved some changes to its fuel export ban, lifting the restrictions for fuel used as bunkering for some vessels and diesel with high sulphur content, a government document showed on Monday.

The ban on all types of gasoline and high-quality diesel, announced last Thursday, remains in place.

"The market continues to digest Russia's temporary ban on diesel and gasoline exports into an already tight market, offset with the Fed's hawkish message that rates will stay higher for longer," said IG Markets analyst Tony Sycamore.

Crude prices fell last week after a hawkish Federal Reserve rattled global financial markets and raised concerns over oil demand. That snapped a three-week rally of more than 10% after Saudi Arabia and Russia constrained supply by extending production cuts to the end of the year.

Last week, Moscow issued a temporary ban on gasoline and diesel exports to most countries to stabilise the domestic market, fanning concerns of low products supply as the Northern Hemisphere heads into winter.

In the United States, the number of operating oil rigs fell by eight to 507 last week - the lowest count since February 2022 - despite higher prices, a weekly report from Baker Hughes showed on Friday.

Compounding supply constraints, U.S. oil refiners are expected to have about 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of capacity offline for the week ending Sept. 29, decreasing available refining capacity by 324,000 bpd, research company IIR Energy said on Monday.

Offline capacity is expected to rise to 1.9 million bpd in the week ending Oct. 6, IIR added.

Expectations of better economic data this week from China, the world's largest crude importer, lifted sentiment. However, analysts flagged that oil prices face technical resistance at the November 2022 highs reached hit last week.

China's manufacturing sector is expected to expand in September, with the purchasing manufacturing index forecast to rise above 50 for the first time since March, Goldman Sachs analysts said.

Reporting by Paul Carsten in London and Mohi Narayan and Florence Tan Editing by Louise Heavens and David Goodman

Source: Reuters

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