Oil prices seesaw in choppy trading




 Brent crude oil seesawed in choppy trading on Friday, as traders booked profits following two weeks of losses.
US crude rose, reversing an early decline after support held at around $102.20 on Thursday and Friday, traders said.
“We’re continuing to see what we saw yesterday, which is consolidation of recent losses by profit-taking at the end of the quarter,” said Addison Armstrong, senior director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
Diplomatic efforts over Syria and Iran helped ease worries about risks to supply from the Middle East, draining around $8 of risk premium from both benchmarks’ highs at the end of August.
The United States and Russia have agreed on a draft UN Security Council resolution aimed at eliminating chemical weapons in Syria. The US and Iran also began talks to resolve a long-running standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Brent crude oil for November gained 1 cent by 11:47 a.m. EDT (1547 GMT) to $109.22 a barrel. Early in the session, it slid nearly $1 to hit $108.24.
US crude for delivery in November rose 54 cents to $103.57. The domestic benchmark hit a session low of $102.36, near its 100-day moving average of $101.99.
A Reuters poll of 32 analysts showed Brent crude is expected to average $107.70 a barrel this year.
The North Sea benchmark, which peaked above $117 a barrel in August on concerns the war in Syria would spiral out of control and hit Middle East oil output, has traded at an average of $108.49 per barrel so far this year.
On Thursday, the United States and Russia ended weeks of diplomatic deadlock and agreed on a UN Security Council draft resolution that would demand Syria give up its chemical arms, without the threat of military force for failure to comply. The UN Security Council will vote on the resolution on Friday.
Although Syria is not a major oil producer, any escalation of tension in the Middle East could disrupt flows from a region that supplies nearly a third of the world’s oil.
Talks progressed between the West and Iran over the latter’s nuclear ambitions, which had prompted sanctions against Tehran. Iran and the United States held their highest-level substantive talks in a generation on Thursday.
While a charm offensive by new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has calmed some oil investors, analysts say increased Iranian crude exports are unlikely to happen any time soon.
Iran’s envoy to the UN nuclear watchdog played down the chances of a quick breakthrough in talks on Friday with the agency on Tehran’s disputed atomic program.
“This is the first meeting so nobody I guess should expect that in just (a) one-day meeting we can solve (our) problems,” Reza Najafi told reporters.
The West’s standoff with Iran over the OPEC nation’s nuclear program has buoyed oil prices for nearly a decade. Years of sanctions have cut Iranian oil exports by more than 1 million barrels per day (bpd).
Libya’s crude oil output has stabilized at around 650,000 bpd after its western fields resumed production this month but the main eastern oil facilities remain closed, a senior National Oil Corp (NOC) official said on Friday.


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