Tensions mount as EU agrees to ban crude imports from Iran, oil prices rise

Brent March crude rose to US$ 110.5, while March crude rose to US$99.3. A decision by the European Union to ban imports of Iranian crude from July and a fresh threat by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz shipping channel has pushed up oil prices amid a weak dollar. EU ministers have decided to ban new contracts to import, buy or transport Iranian crude and to freeze assets of Iran's central bank, to phase in the oil embargo, allowing countries with existing contracts until July 1 to end those deals. A senior member of Iran's parliament said Iran would close the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions block oil exports, reiterating previous threats and helping boost crude prices. Continued monetary easing or additional Fed actions to stimulate economic growth could further weaken the dollar and increase liquidity in oil markets.
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