* Investors await U.S. Fed meeting results on Wednesday
* Iraq says will bolster crude output
* US consumer prices rise, pointing to growing demand
* Market keeps an eye on Syria conflict
* US commercial crude oil stocks seen down last week - poll
By Jeanine Prezioso
NEW YORK, June 18 Oil prices ended slightly
higher on Tuesday in sluggish trading as the market awaited the
Federal Reserve's policy statement on Wednesday that is expected
to show whether it will reduce its monetary stimulus.
The program has been largely supportive of oil prices.
Brent oil was off an 11-week high set in the previous
session and U.S. crude oil had dropped from a nine-month high.
Until the Fed's policy decision, oil trading will be largely
muted, said Addison Armstrong, director of market research at
Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
"I'd expect we are going to see quiet trading between now
and 23 and a half hours from now," he said.
Global financial markets have been on edge since Fed
Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested the central bank would be
looking to pull back its stimulus program.
The Fed started its two-day Federal Open Market Committee
policy meeting on Tuesday. Its three quantitative-easing schemes
have buoyed prices of commodities as they pumped liquidity into
the market and lowered the value of the dollar, making
greenback-traded commodities cheaper for investors in foreign
Brent crude oil futures for August delivery settled
55 cents higher at $106.02 per barrel after trading as high as
$106.24. Front-month U.S. crude oil futures finished the
day 67 cents higher at $98.44 per barrel, after trading as high
as $98.61. U.S. oil prices fell short of $98.74, a nine-month
high, reached on Monday.
The market was rangebound on Tuesday, testing resistance and
support levels after reaching new highs, Armstrong said, having
hit those new highs due to possible U.S. involvement in Syria's
"The potential for the U.S. and its allies to begin arming
Syrian rebels is what pushed us into this new trading range,"
The Syrian conflict has become a proxy for warring Middle
Eastern factions. Investors fear oil supply
disruptions if other Middle Eastern nations are drawn into the
conflict. The region, in total, pumps more than a third of the
A weaker dollar lent some support to oil prices on Tuesday
as did a rise in consumer prices and an upbeat outlook for the
The dollar index, a measure of the dollar's strength against
a basket of currencies, was 0.21 percent lower.
U.S. commercial crude oil stocks likely fell last week due
to lower imports, according to a Reuters poll.
Statoil said some production fields connected to
the Oseberg oil field, which in total produce nearly 120,000
barrels per day (bpd), has resumed after an outage on Monday.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it initiated a planned
shutdown at its 600,000 bpd Motiva refinery in Port Arthur,
Texas, on Friday.
New York Mercantile Exchange gasoline futures settled
at $2.87 per gallon, ending slightly higher from Monday's $2.85
Iraq plans to ramp up oil production by nearly 45 percent by
the end of 2014 to 4.5 million bpd without input from