* Top European buyers of Iranian oil cut imports
* Upbeat mood on Greece ahead of Monday meeting
* Overbought signals pressure Brent
(Recasts, updates prices, changes dateline previously LONDON
NEW YORK, Feb 17 Brent crude oil dipped on
profit-taking on Friday after gaining for four
straight days and hitting overbought conditions as it topped
$120 a barrel.
But Brent crude remains on track for its fourth consecutive
weekly gains, with prices elevated due to fears of supply
disruptions in Iran and rising confidence that Greece will
finally wrap a debt bailout deal by Monday.
U.S. crude rose for the third consecutive day, buoyed by a
series of positive economic data, although a report on Thursday
that U.S. consumer prices rose the most in four months in
January due to a spike in gasoline prices raised concerns that
higher energy costs could slow the economic recovery.
U.S. crude nonetheless was on course to post its second
straight week of gains.
"Oil prices are back to the mixed price performance that has
typified trade over much of the past week, with traders
performing a daily assessment of what's hot and what's not,"
said Tim Evans, energy analyst at Citi Futures Perspective in
In London, ICE Brent crude for April delivery was
down 86 cents to $119.25 a barrel by 12:10 p.m. EST (1710 GMT).
It had dropped to a session low of $118.85, after climbing to
$120.70 in early trading, the highest intraday since June 15.
Brent crude's Relative Strength Index (RSI) fell back to
67.5, from 73.6 on Thursday, according to Reuters data. A
reading of 70 is the threshold for overbought conditions.
U.S. NYMEX March crude was up 67 cents at $102.98,
having risen earlier to a six-week high of $103.57.
Brent's premium against U.S. crude narrowed sharply to
around $15.85, after closing at $17.47 on Thursday. CL-LCO1=R
"On the technical side, WTI (West Texas Intermediary crude)
has held its ground, providing minor dips all week long (and)
there has been good call spread buying all week long, providing
for an upward bias." said Tony Rosado, options broker with GA
Global Markets in New York.
IRAN TENSION, GREEK OUTLOOK
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, accused by the West
of pursuing a nuclear weapons program, said in Pakistan that
foreign nations were determined to dominate the region and that
this should not be allowed. [ID: nL4E8DH804]
Admadinejad's remarks follows a string of belligerent
comments from Iranian officials raising threats that Iran would
retaliate in the wake of sanctions the West has imposed on
Tehran due to its disputed nuclear program.
Iran's top oil customers in Europe are already making
substantial cuts in imports ahead of European Union sanctions
that take effect in July, reducing flows to the continent in
March by more than a third, industry sources said.
This has increased demand for replacement barrels from Saudi
Arabia, Iraq and Russia, leading to higher prices, although
there is no shortage of actual supply.
Meanwhile, Greece edged closer to winning a second rescue
package worth 130 billion euros ($170 billion) as officials in
Athens said Germany was optimistic a deal could be struck
despite misgivings over whether Greece would stick to its
Euro zone finance ministers are due to meet on Monday, and
expectations that they will sign off a bailout deal for Greece
increased after a proposal was dropped to withhold part of the
agreement until after Greek elections expected in April.
Prices were also supported by more evidence of sustained
recovery momentum in the U.S. economy. U.S. data on Thursday
showed jobless claims falling to a near four-year low, solid
growth in factory activity in the Mid-Atlantic area and a
faster-than-expected rise in housing starts.
(Additional reporting by Jeffrey Kerr in New York, Peg Mackey
in London, Jessica Jaganathan in Singapore; Editing by