Oil hovers near $94 a barrel after Iran nuclear talks stall but set to continue next week

The price of oil lingered above $94 a barrel Monday after negotiations in Geneva to curb Iran’s nuclear program were stalled and U.S. crude supplies remained high.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery was down 39 cents to $94.21 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after rising 40 cents on Friday. Trading is expected to be light because of the Veterans Day holiday.

Six key powers are considering a gradual rollback of sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy. In exchange, they demand initial curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.

The U.S.-led negotiations, however, failed to yield a deal over the weekend. This eased concerns of an influx of Iranian oil into world markets at a time of already abundant supplies.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that while the major powers were in agreement over the latest proposal, it was unacceptable to Iran. Talks are scheduled to resume next week in Geneva. A deal between Tehran and the U.N. on expanding the monitoring of its nuclear sites could boost the negotiations.

Meanwhile, unexpectedly strong economic growth and employment data in the U.S. also supported prices. Investors cheered the data from Friday, even though they are likely to encourage the Federal Reserve to cut back on bond purchases stimulating the economy.

Oil prices have fallen from near $104 a barrel in early October partly due to rising U.S. production and comfortable supply levels. On Nov. 1, crude stocks were 11.6 per cent above the five-year average.

“The on-going concerns over the abundant supply of oil in North America continue to weigh on (Nymex) prices,” said analyst Fawad Razaqzada at in London. “With the lack of fresh economic data and the Veterans Day holiday … (Nymex) is likely to remain flat throughout the session today.”

Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up 40 cents to $105.52 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline added 0.23 cent to $2.5557 a gallon.

— Heating oil gained 0.23 cent to $2.8742 a gallon.

— Natural gas advanced 1.5 cents to $3.574 per 1,000 cubic feet.