Oil breaks US$70 as market awaits U.S. call on Iran

Oil prices fall as market awaits Trump decision on Iran

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The 2015 accord eased sanctions on OPEC's third-largest producer in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, and renewed American measures may constrain the Persian Gulf nation's crude exports.

In other news, hedge funds cut their net long U.S. crude futures and option positions in the week to May 1 by 11,825 contracts to 444,060, according to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 187 points, or 0.8 percent, to 24,450. Looming over markets, however, is surging USA output, which has soared by more than a quarter in the last two years, to 10.62 million bpd.

"The focus of oil markets is now on the United States president's pending decision on the fate of the Iran nuclear deal", said Victor Shum, an oil industry analyst at research firm IHS Markit. It is being reported by Bloomberg that Saudi Arabia's former price doves on oil now want prices near $80 a barrel and former Price hawk Iran want staple prices in the $60 a barrel range.

Oil prices have surged by double digits since early February, as President Trump has indicated the USA might withdraw from the global pact with Iran, under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

USA gasoline and product prices will also rise. Monday was the first time since November 2014 that WTI had climbed above US$70 per barrel.

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Oil prices have been on a tear over the past 12 months, rising more than 65 per cent from its US$42.50 per barrel low in June 2017 to recently breaching the US$70 per barrel level to start the week. We are not just talking about a return to strained relations between the USA and Iran if Trump pulls out of the deal, but we also need to look at the risk of what impact this could have on regional markets within the Middle East. Brent crude, the worldwide standard, gained 98 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $75.85 a barrel in London.

While refusing to reveal what he will do on Saturday, Trump reiterated his belief the existing accord is "a frightful agreement for the United States", but "that doesn't mean I wouldn't negotiate a new agreement".

Shannon Rivkin, investment director of Australia's Rivkin Securities, said that oil prices had been driven up "thanks to growing concerns over the economic collapse of Venezuela and its oil industry, plus possible new sanctions against Iran from the Trump administration". America's European allies continue to back the deal, saying it has been essential to reining in Iran's nuclear program. If they do not, Trump has said he would refuse to extend USA sanctions relief for the oil-producing Islamic Republic. A recent report by the International Energy Agency shows that global demand expanded by 1.5 million barrels per day past year, representing a 1.6 per cent annual increase.

In other data, the USA rig count increased by nine to a total of 834 producing oil rigs.

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