KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Oil prices fell Thursday as talks resumed between Iran and six powers to curb Tehran's nuclear program.
Benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery was down 20 cents to $93.65 a barrel at midafternoon Kuala Lumpur time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract for December, which expired Wednesday, closed down 1 cent at $93.33.
A new round of Iran nuclear talks began in Geneva on Wednesday, with both sides indicating a first-step agreement was possible on a deal to roll back Iran's nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief.
The U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany are offering a gradual easing of sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy, raising the possibility of an influx of Iranian oil into world markets at a time of already abundant supplies.
At the same time, signs that the Federal Reserve may wind down its $85 billion monthly bond purchases also bogged sentiment.
Minutes of the Fed last meeting showed members agreed they would likely start tapering stimulus in coming months if the job market improved further. The Fed's bond purchases have kept long-term borrowing rates low to spur spending and growth.
Brent crude, the benchmark for an international variety of crude, fell 19 cents to $107.87 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline eased 0.4 cent to $2.642 gallon.
— Heating oil dipped 0.3 cent to $2.95 a gallon.
— Natural gas was flat at $3.674 per 1,000 cubic feet.