Oil Up as Iran Talks Conclude without Deal


Brent crude oil edged up towards $106 a barrel on Monday after Iran and six world powers failed to reach a deal on Tehran's nuclear programme, and after Chinese data pointed to a rise in fuel demand in the world's biggest energy consumer.

Sanctions against Iran have removed more than 1 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil from world markets, and any rise in Iranian supply could push oil prices lower, analysts say.

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Marathon talks between the United States, Russia, China, Britain, Germany, France and Iran ended in Geneva on Saturday without agreement but negotiations will resume again on Nov.20.

Brent was up 50 cents a barrel at $105.62 by 1150 GMT. The contract hit a four-month low on Friday and, despite rising to close the session up $1.66 per barrel, Brent ended with a fourth straight week of losses.

U.S. crude was 25 cents lower at $94.35 a barrel, after closing up 40 cents on Friday.

Divisions emerged among the Western allies on the final day of the Iranian nuclear talks as France hinted the proposal under discussion did not sufficiently neutralise the threat of an Iranian nuclear bomb.

But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday he hoped an agreement to end a dispute over Iran's nuclear programme would be completed within months.

"We are not far from an agreement," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told a radio station.

Oil found some support from Chinese data pointing to higher fuel demand as the economy accelerates.

China's implied oil demand inched up 0.3 percent in October from a year earlier, after dipping the previous month, the first yearly decline in 17 months.

The improvement came as official data at the end of last week suggested China's economy had steadied after a protracted slowdown, with factory activity growing faster than expected and a rebound in exports also stronger than the market had thought.

But a surprise increase in U.S. jobs data on Friday, which strengthened the dollar as well as the possibility that U.S. stimulus could be pared sooner, weighed on some commodities, including the domestic crude oil contract.

"Some investors expect a reduction in the Federal Reserve's asset purchase programme sooner rather than later," said Carsten Fritsch, senior oil and commodities analyst at Commerzbank.

News last week that Saudi Arabia cut its crude output in October to 9.75 million bpd from 10.1 million bpd in September also helped support prices.

In Libya, tensions remained high after an autonomy movement in the east said on Sunday it had formed a regional oil firm to start selling crude after seizing several ports.

Kuwait's oil minister, Mustapha al-Shamali, said on Saturday he expected the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to keep its output target unchanged.

OPEC, which pumps more than a third of the world's oil, will meet on Dec. 4 in Vienna to decide its oil production policies.