Oil rebounded from a seven-month low as world powers and Iran struggled to overcome disagreements at their second round of meetings on the country’s nuclear program.
Prices climbed 0.8 percent as the talks produced no binding pledges from Iran to ensure its atomic work is peaceful. Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said that negotiations are “moving forward” even as “obstacles” stand in the parties’ way. Crude pared gains in the last hour of floor trading as equities and the euro fell.
“Iran’s tactic is to make gestures that they want to talk but there is absolutely nothing real,” said Kyle Cooper, director of commodities research at IAF Advisors in Houston. “It’s just more talks, even though talks are better than nothing.”
Crude for July delivery gained 76 cents to settle at $90.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It’s the fourth time prices have risen this month. Futures are down 17 percent from this year’s high $109.77 on Feb. 24. They settled at $89.90 a barrel yesterday, the lowest closing price since Oct. 21.
Brent oil for July settlement rose 99 cents, or 0.9 percent, to end the session at $106.55 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Iran presented a five-point plan and was willing to discuss its production of uranium enriched to 20 percent levels, Ashton said at a Baghdad press conference following the talks. The group of negotiators from China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. and U.S. is pressuring Iran to halt the processing of the uranium.
‘Chance to Buy’
“The one thing that is clear is that there won’t be a quick and easy resolution to the nuclear standoff with Iran,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts. “People were looking for a chance to buy into the market after the big selloff.”
Oil prices jumped 8.3 percent in the first two months of this year as the U.S. and EU tightened sanctions on Iran, curtailing the country’s exports to Europe and raising speculation that Iran may close the Strait of Hormuz, the transit point for about a fifth of globally traded oil.
“Fears with Iran and potential supply disruptions” pushed prices higher earlier this year, Stephen Schork, president of the Schork Group Inc. in Villanova, Pennsylvania, said in an interview on “Surveillance Midday” with Tom Keene.
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, said two days of intensive talks were “incomplete” even as he praised the climate as “good.”
Negotiations have been underway since yesterday in an effort to forestall possible military strikes against Iran, a prospect Israel hasn’t ruled out. The sides will reconvene June 18 and 19 in Moscow. The first round of discussions was held April 14 in Istanbul.
“The geopolitical uncertainty is back in the marketplace,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at futures brokerage PFGBest in Chicago. “Technically, there is a lot of support below $90.”
While the Islamic republic, target of a probe by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency since 2003, denies it wants to make nuclear weapons, it has refused to fully cooperate with inspectors and has been hit with international sanctions.
Iran produced an average of 3.28 million barrels a day of crude in April, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Saudi Arabia, the biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, pumped 9.8 million a day.
Oil reduced earlier gains as stocks slid in the hour before the settlement, snapping a three-day rally for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Equities fell after three officials said China’s biggest banks may fall short of loan targets and as an economic slowdown crimps demand for credit.
The euro touched $1.2516, the lowest level against the dollar since July 2010. A weaker euro and stronger dollar curb commodities’ appeal as an alternate investment.
“The market is reacting to the equity market going negative and the euro retesting $1.25,” said Rich Ilczyszyn, chief market strategist and founder of Iitrader.com in Chicago.
Electronic trading volume on the Nymex was 345,318 contracts as of 3:44 p.m. in New York. Volume totaled 502,123 contracts yesterday, 14 percent below the three-month average. Open interest was 1.45 million.