Oil Prices Rise Sharply on Drop in Iranian Exports

Oil prices rallied sharply on Friday on news that Iranian oil exports have fallen significantly this month as tightening Western sanctions cause some buyers to stop or scale back purchases.

Iran's crude exports appear to have fallen in March by around 300,000 barrels per day, or 14 percent, the first sizeable drop in shipments this year, according to estimates from industry consultant Petrologistics and an oil company.

After Brent oil extended its rise to nearly $4 and U.S. crude also rose sharply, oil prices pared gains as equities fell on Wall Street following data that showed U.S. new single-family home sales declined in February.

Brent crude rose $2.08 to $125.22 a barrel as of 10:50 a.m. EDT (1450 GMT), having swung from $123.10 to $127.06.

U.S. crude rose $1.45 to $106.80 a barrel, having traded from $105.16 to $108.25.

On Thursday, oil slid on disappointing Chinese manufacturing data and euro zone PMI figures.

Ahead of the Iranian export news, oil prices had already been supported by a drop in the dollar. A weaker U.S. currency can lift dollar-denominated crude oil by making it less expensive for consumers using other currencies.