Oil prices recover as Iran talks, Greek crisis drag on

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for August delivery was up 14 cents at $57.10 in mid-afternoon Asian trade while Brent was 25 cents higher at $62.26.

“With the deadline now extended into next week on finding a comprehensive agreement on Tehran’s nuclear programme, the markets will monitor closely the outcome of the negotiations as Iran sits on the fourth-largest oil reserves and second-largest gas reserves in the world,” said Sanjeev Gupta, head of the Asia-Pacific oil and gas practice at Ernst and Young.

Daniel Ang, investment analyst at Phillip Futures, said “we continue to focus on the timing that Iranian crude would flow into the market for this situation”.

Oil futures prices fell Wednesday after the Department of Energy reported an unexpected increase in US stockpiles last week, further dampening sentiment.

“With prices falling yesterday, we are seeing that the high volatilities that we were aiming for could be over. We suggest taking profit on this position,” said analyst Ang.

Talks between Iran and major powers towards a nuclear deal will intensify Thursday with International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano due in Tehran to seek a way around one of the thorniest issues: a stalled probe into Iran’s suspected nuclear bomb development programme.

Iran and the P5+1 group – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – are trying to nail down a historic agreement ending a 13-year standoff over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Under a framework deal agreed in April, Iran will scale back its nuclear programme with the aim of putting an atomic bomb beyond its reach.

In return, painful trade and other sanctions imposed on Iran would be progressively lifted.

Traders are closely tracking developments in Europe ahead of Sunday’s crucial referendum on Greece on whether to accept creditors’ bailout reform proposals, with European leaders casting it as a simple in/out vote on Athens’ eurozone future.

While creditors dismissed Wednesday an offer from Greece for a new bailout – which had been presented just before it defaulted – traders are confident the crisis will eventually be resolved. – AFP

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