Brent crude retreats from a 2015 peak of $68 a barrel

Oil prices pared gains after hitting a 2015 peak of $68 on Thursday with the Brent crude oil closing 50 cents lower on the strength of the dollar.

Crude prices rose in early trade on the back of a fall in US crude inventories - the first since January - despite an oversupplied market.

Oil pared gains as the dollar strengthened and traders took profits following this week's rally. Global benchmark Brent fell 50 cents, or 0.7 per cent, to $67.27 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

Light, sweet crude for June delivery is already down 56 cents, or 0.9 per cent, at $60.37 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

US crude stocks were down 3.9 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Stronger-than-expected demand growth and a slowdown in US crude supply has boosted oil prices by 50 per cent from a six-year low in January, despite ample supply.

Brent crude was up 25 cents a barrel at $68.03 by 1045 GMT. It hit a 2015 high of $69.63 on Wednesday.

US crude was down 15 cents at $60.78 a barrel after it rallied more than $2 to a high of $62.58 in the previous session.

Sentiment was also affected by Iran's oil minister's statement that if sanctions on the country were lifted, it could increase its oil production from 2.7 million barrels a day currently to four million barrels a day within eight months.

Oil prices had fallen earlier in the year on speculation that a lifting of sanctions on Iran following a deal on the country's nuclear programme would lead to a flooding an already oversupplied global market for crude.

But the market considers Opec leader Saudi Arabia's Yemen offensive as a negative for oil supplies and that has aldo affected market sentiment.