Oil prices rise

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London - Oil prices rose on Tuesday on geopolitical tensions fuelled by a warning of tougher sanctions against Russia and fierce fighting in Gaza, traders said.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in September climbed 64 cents to stand at $108.32 a barrel in London midday deals.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for August increased 34 cents to $104.93 a barrel compared with Monday's closing value.

“The crises in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip, coupled with the risk of tougher economic sanctions against Russia, caused oil prices to climb,” said analysts at Commerzbank in a note to clients.

EU foreign ministers tackled tougher Ukraine crisis sanctions against Russia on Tuesday, divided as to how far to go and with British-led calls for an arms embargo putting France on the spot.

The downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 last week, allegedly by pro-Moscow rebels using Russian equipment, has changed the situation completely and requires a much tougher response, said Britain's Philip Hammond.

The downing of the MH17 flight over rebel territory in Ukraine has put Moscow's support of the separatists under more scrutiny than ever amid allegations the plane was blasted out of the sky with a Russian-supplied missile system.

Russia is the world's second-biggest oil producer and there are fears that tougher sanctions could affect those supplies.

Ukraine is also a major conduit for Russian gas exports to Europe.

Regarding the crude-rich Middle East, the UN chief and Washington's top diplomat were holding a flurry of meetings in Cairo on Tuesday to push for an end to two weeks of violence in Gaza that has killed 585 Palestinians.

As the conflict entered its third week, neither side showed any sign of willingness to pull back, with Israel pursuing a relentless campaign of shelling and air strikes, and Palestinian militants hitting back with rocket fire and fierce attacks on troops operating on the ground.

Overall, 27 Israeli soldiers have died in the past four days, with 13 killed on Sunday alone in what was the bloodiest single day for Israel's military since the Lebanon war of 2006. - Sapa-AFP


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