Oil futures steady in Asia; Fed meeting, US-Iran talks eyed

Crude-oil futures moved sideways in Asian trading hours Friday as investors watched developments in U.S.-Iran talks, and ahead the key U.S. Federal Reserve meeting next week.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in January traded at $97.41 a barrel at 0523 GMT, down $0.09 in the Globex electronic session. January Brent crude on London’s ICE Futures exchange fell $0.07 to $108.60 a barrel.

On Thursday, U.S. retail sales data came in stronger than expected, rekindling fears that the Fed may opt for early tapering of its asset purchases at its December meeting, boosting the greenback and putting pressure on oil markets.

“Once tapering kicks in, global appetite for commodities is likely to be reduced, including crude oil,” analyst Tan Chee Tat at Phillip Capital said in a note.

Brent crude prices continue to be pressured by healthy global oil supply, and how the oil supply situation plays out in Iran and Libya will determine the future direction of oil prices.

The White House on Thursday blocked Congress from passing new sanctions against Iran, at least through the end of the year, buying the government more time to negotiate a deal over Tehran’s nuclear program.

The U.S. government, however, went ahead with blacklisting more than a dozen companies and individuals for allegedly helping Tehran procure equipment for its nuclear and missile programs and evade sanctions.

Iranian negotiators have halted ongoing nuclear talks with western powers in Vienna shortly after the blacklist was announced, the AFP reported, citing state media. The negotiators were discussing the implementation of a landmark accord agreed last month.

The return of Iran oil barrels to the market may require OPEC members to curtail production levels.

In the past Saudi Arabia has helped steady oil markets by adjusting its output, but it will no longer unilaterally cut oil production as OPEC members discuss how to cope with a possible increase in global crude output, the WSJ reports.

Brent is trading below $109 a barrel for the first time in almost four weeks on news that Libya may reopen three oil ports this week, but is also supported by reports of unrest and bombings near the Suez Canal, ANZ Research said.

Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock for January–the benchmark gasoline contract–was unchanged at to $2.6348 a gallon, while January heating oil traded at $2.9760, 41 points lower.

ICE gasoil for January changed hands at $921.25 a metric ton, down $4.25 from Thursday’s settlement.

By The Wall Street Journal 

 

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