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Oil slips slightly, but geopolitical tensions seen preventing any significant declines.

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The price of oil fell slightly Tuesday but experts see geopolitical tensions preventing any significant short-term declines.

U.S. benchmark crude for August delivery fell 17 cents to $104.42 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The more heavily traded September contract slipped 47 cents to $102.39.

Brent crude for September delivery, a benchmark for international oils, dropped 35 cents to $107.33 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Fighting between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants in Gaza has added to the risk of instability in the oil-rich Middle East just as tensions have intensified between the West and Russia, a major oil and gas producer, over the Ukraine crisis.

European leaders are considering tougher sanctions against Russia for its backing of separatists accused of shooting down the Malaysia Airways passenger plane in Ukraine last week. The European Union's foreign ministers were meeting to discuss their next steps.

PHOTO: CORRECTS BYLINE - Israeli soldiers march during a drill near the Israel and Gaza border, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Israeli airstrikes pummeled a wide range of locations in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday as the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state began an intensive effort to end more than two weeks of fighting that has killed hundreds of Palestinians and dozens of Israelis.(AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)
CORRECTS BYLINE - Israeli soldiers march during a drill near the Israel and Gaza border, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Israeli airstrikes pummeled a wide range of locations in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday as the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state began an intensive effort to end more than two weeks of fighting that has killed hundreds of Palestinians and dozens of Israelis.(AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)

Investors will also be monitoring fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products.

Data for the week ending July 18 is expected to show a draw of 2.6 million barrels in crude oil stocks and a build of 1.2 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Financial.

In other Nymex trading:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $2.88 a gallon.

— Heating oil was flat at $2.85 a gallon.

— Natural gas dropped 1 cent to $3.77 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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