Oil prices down on thin pre-hol­i­day Asia trade

The China Post - - BUSINESS INDEX & -

Oil prices fell in thin pre-hol­i­day trade in Asia Thurs­day af­ter a mixed U.S. stock­piles re­port, while talks over crude pro­ducer Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram dragged on, an­a­lysts said.

U.S. bench­mark West Texas In­ter­me­di­ate fell 40 cents to US$49.69 while Brent slipped 32 cents to US$56.78 in af­ter­noon trade.

“Prices have come off with thin vol­umes ahead of the hol­i­day to­mor­row,” Michael McCarthy, chief mar­ket strate­gist at CMC Mar­kets in Syd­ney, told AFP.

Fi­nan­cial mar­kets in ma­jor crude trad­ing hubs in­clud­ing Sin­ga­pore, the United States and the United King­dom will be closed on Fri­day for the long Easter week­end.

McCarthy said deal­ers were still di­gest­ing the lat­est U.S. Depart­ment of En­ergy’s weekly petroleum re­port re­leased Wed­nes­day.

The re­port, for the week to March 27, showed an­other in­crease in in­ven­to­ries to a new record high of 471.4 mil­lion bar­rels.

But it also re­vealed a slight decline in U.S. pro­duc­tion of 36,000 bar­rels per day, end­ing a long climb to record out­put lev­els that have con­trib­uted to the global sup­ply glut.

“The decline in crude pro­duc­tion does give some hope that the state of over­sup­ply can be brought un­der con­trol, and bring about a lift in prices,” McCarthy said.

Talks be­tween Iran and world pow­ers aimed at pre­vent­ing Tehran from get­ting a nu­clear bomb re­mained in fo­cus, he added.

“We are a few me­ters ... from the fin­ish­ing line, but we are well aware that the fi­nal me­ters are the hard­est,” French For­eign Min­is­ter Lau­rent Fabius told re­porters as he ar­rived late Wed­nes­day back in Switzer­land to re­join the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The United States, China, United King­dom, Rus­sia, France and Ger­many hope a full agree­ment, due to be fi­nal­ized by June 30, will see Iran scale back its nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity, which would pre­vent Tehran from de­vel­op­ing a nu­clear weapon.

In re­turn, the diplo­mat­i­cally iso­lated Is­lamic repub­lic, which de­nies want­ing to build a bomb, is de­mand­ing the lift­ing of sanc­tions that have stran­gled its en­er­gyre­liant econ­omy.

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