TOKYO Oil prices fell in early Asian trading on Wednesday after figures from an industry group showed U.S. stockpiles had risen more than expected.
The front-month contract in U.S. crude futures CLc1 was down 36 cents at $41.09 a barrel by 0047 GMT. It struck a 2016 high of $41.90 in the previous session before closing at $41.45.
Brent crude LCOc1 was 25 cents lower at $41.54, reversing gains in the previous session when it finished at $41.79.
The attacks on an airport and metro station in Brussels that left at least 30 dead also heightened risk aversion for oil and some other assets.
The American Petroleum Institute (API), an industry group, said in a report after Tuesday's oil market settlement that U.S. crude stockpiles rose almost 9 million barrels last week to reach a record high of nearly 532 million.
The stockpile growth reported by the API was nearly 6 million barrels above estimates from analysts polled by Reuters. Official crude inventory data from the U.S. government will be released later on Wednesday.
"Near-term direction is likely to centre on the degree of increase in U.S. stockpiles," ANZ bank said in a note on Wednesday.
Adding to the abiding glut is the revival of Iranian barrels on the international market after sanctions were lifted in January.
Iran's crude oil exports have risen to 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) since sanctions were lifted, an increase of 900,000 bpd, a senior official was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
"Until January we could only export 1.3 million barrels of oil but two months after the (lifting of) sanctions we are exporting 2.2 million barrels of oil per day," Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri was quoted as saying by the Shana agency.
(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Richard Pullin)
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Updated Date: Mar 23, 2016 07:30:12 IST