West Texas Intermediate crude, with the new January contract falling 21 cents to USD 93.64, while the European benchmark Brent oil for January dropped 28 cents to USD 107.78.

Tan Chee Tat, an investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore, said the prospect of a deal with Iran was putting pressure on prices.
    
"It seems not conclusive as of now but most Americans support a deal between Iran and the six powers," he said.
    
"This generates positive sentiment. New sanctions are unlikely to be imposed, so concern over Iranian crude going into the market adds pressure to oil prices."
    
The P5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany wants Iran to suspend certain parts of its nuclear energy programme, which the West suspects to be a cover for weapons development. Iran denies the accusation.
    
The two sides resumed talks late Wednesday aimed at reaching a landmark deal although Tehran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has vowed not to retreat "one step".
    
The opening plenary session in Geneva lasted less than 10 minutes and was described by diplomats as an "introductory" meeting before delegates headed into bilateral talks.
    
In the United States the Department of Energy said domestic inventories had risen 400,000 barrels last week -- lower than market expectations of a gain of 700,000 barrels.
    
While this pointed to surprisingly strong demand, oil prices are still in a bearish market, analysts said.

(Agencies)

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