Oil prices edge lower as Iran nu­clear dead­line ap­proaches

The China Post - - BUSINESS INDEX & -

Oil prices fell in Asia Tues­day as deal­ers mon­i­tored last-ditch ef­forts be­tween global pow­ers and Iran to reach a deal on Tehran’s nu­clear pro­gram and ease sanc­tions im­posed on the crude pro­ducer.

U. S. bench­mark West Texas In­ter­me­di­ate fell 67 U.S. cents to US$48.01 while Brent eased 41 cents to US$55.88 in af­ter­noon trade.

Sin­ga­pore United Over­seas Bank said prices “tum­bled as hopes for a nu­clear deal with Iran climbed”.

For­eign min­is­ters of U.S.-led ma­jor world pow­ers are rac­ing to beat a mid­night Tues­day dead­line to nail down a frame­work deal with Iran they hope will put an atomic bomb out of the Is­lamic repub­lic’s reach.

“There are marathon meet­ings hap­pen­ing all over the place. There are sev­eral is­sues that have not been re­solved yet. Th­ese are im­por­tant is­sues,” an Ira­nian ne­go­tia­tor in the Swiss city of Lau­sanne said late Mon­day.

U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Ker- ry, in Lau­sanne since Wed­nes­day for the lat­est in a se­ries of meet­ings with Ira­nian For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif that have criss­crossed the globe, said Mon­day there was still work to do.

“There still re­main some dif­fi­cult is­sues,” Kerry told CNN. “We are work­ing very hard to work those through. We are work­ing late into the night and ob­vi­ously into to­mor­row.”

Un­der the deal, due to be fi­nal­ized by June 30, the pow­ers want Iran to scale back its nu­clear pro­gram to give the world am­ple no­tice of any dash to make a bomb by ex­tend­ing the so-called “break­out” time.

In re­turn diplo­mat­i­cally iso­lated Tehran, which de­nies want­ing atomic weapons, is de­mand­ing the lift­ing of sanc­tions that have stran­gled its econ­omy.

With the world’s fourth big­gest oil and sec­ond big­gest gas re­serves, the en­ergy in­dus­try is the cor­ner­stone of Iran’s econ­omy, but it has been hit hard by the Amer­i­can and Euro­pean em­bargo im­posed since 2012.

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