September 12, 2018 / 12:50 AM / 10 days ago

Oil prices rise on lower U.S. crude inventories, looming Iran sanctions

* API reports 8.6 million-barrel decline in crude inventories

* Iran crude exports to Asia fall: tmsnrt.rs/2NDV3Os

* Hurricane Florence to hit U.S. East Coast on Friday

* Storm has caused fuel shortages amid evacuations

By Henning Gloystein

SINGAPORE, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Oil prices rose on Wednesday after a report of falling crude inventories and the looming sanctions against Iran fuelled expectations of a tightening market.

Prices were also pushed up by Hurricane Florence, which is expected to make landfall on the U.S. East Coast on Friday, and which has caused fuel shortages following the evacuation of millions of households and businesses.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $69.81 per barrel at 0047 GMT, up 56 cents, or 0.8 percent, from their last settlement.

Brent crude futures climbed 24 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $79.30 a barrel.

The increases extended a more than 2 percent climb in both crude benchmarks the previous session.

“Oil prices jumped overnight as American Petroleum Institute inventory data showed a large drawdown in inventories,” said William O’Loughlin, investment analyst at Australia’s Rivkin Securities.

U.S. crude stocks fell by 8.6 million barrels in the week to September 7 to 395.9 million barrels, the American Petroleum Institute (API), a private industry group, said on Tuesday.

Official weekly government data will be published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday.

Outside the United States, traders have been focusing on the impact of looming U.S. sanctions against Iran, which will target oil exports from November.

Washington has put pressure on other governments to also cut imports, and many countries and companies are already falling in line and reducing purchases, triggering expectations of a tighter market.

Reporting by Henning Gloystein Editing by Joseph Radford

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