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Oil prices mixed as Iraq keeps markets on edge

Global oil prices traded in mixed fashion ahead of the weekend, with Brent slightly higher as traders watched developments in the jihadist-led offensive in Iraqi, OPEC's second-largest oil producer.

NEW YORK: Global oil prices traded in mixed fashion ahead of the weekend on Friday, with Brent slightly higher as traders watched developments in the jihadist-led offensive in Iraqi, OPEC's second-largest oil producer.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August settled 10 cents lower at $105.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The European benchmark, Brent crude for delivery in August, rose nine cents to close at $113.30 a barrel in London.

"We see something of an uneasy balance in the Brent crude oil market, with worries over the Sunni insurgency and political problems offset for now by indications that crude oil production from the south remains on plan," said Tim Evans of Citi Futures.

A week ago, the pair of futures contracts closed at nine-month highs. WTI prices fell over the week by 1.4 percent and Brent shed 1.3 percent.

On Friday, Iraq's top Shiite cleric urged the country's leaders to unite, after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki conceded political measures were needed to defeat the Sunni Arab militant offensive that has killed more than 1,000 people and overrun major parts of five provinces since June 9.

The militants have not reached the Shiite-controlled south, the centre of the country's export oil industry.

"If the fighting between Sunni militants and Iraq government forces is restricted to the north of Baghdad, supply disruption fears would ease," said Inenco analyst Nadina Ball.

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