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Oil prices mixed in Asian trade

Singapore:  Oil prices were mixed in Asia today following a bearish US energy report, while talks over crude producer Iran’s nuclear programme dragged on, analysts said.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August delivery fell three cents to USD 60.24 while Brent gained 14 cents to USD 63.63 in mid-morning trade.

Sanjeev Gupta, head of the Asia-Pacific oil and gas practice at business consultancy EY, said oil prices were pressured by the US Department of Energy’s weekly petroleum report.

The report showed domestic crude output edged up to a record 9.6 million barrels a day in the week to June 19, and that crude stockpiles, though down 4.9 million barrels in the week, were still at a near-record 463 million barrels.

Nothing in the data suggested that the US oil industry, as the country enters the summer holiday driving season, was cutting back in the face of low prices.

Gupta said dealers are also expecting an “extension of the Iran nuclear talks”, adding it “seems increasingly likely as the parties involved signalled doubt about being able to resolve all the issues by the 30 June deadline”.

Six global powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — are trying to nail down a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions by reducing its stockpiles of enriched uranium and mothballing some of its sites.

If the agreement is reached by the deadline and implemented, the powers have agreed to gradually scale back sanctions imposed since 2012, including on its petroleum industry.

Iran has the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves but its exports have fallen from more than 2.2 million barrels per day in 2011 to about 1.3 million because of the sanctions.

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