Oil prices slip as market eyes possible Iran deal

AFP| Last Updated: Mar 31, 2015, 02:18 AM IST

Oil prices dipped Monday as traders eyed talks between Iran and global powers that could ease international sanctions on one of the world`s leading oil producers.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for May delivery shed 19 cents to $48.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

European benchmark Brent oil for May delivery fell 12 cents to $56.29 a barrel in London.

Foreign ministers of Iran and major world powers meeting in the Swiss city of Lausanne raced to beat a midnight Tuesday deadline to nail down a framework deal they hope will put an atomic bomb out of Tehran`s reach.

The crude market cut its losses near the end of the trading session, when US Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN the talks would extend into the middle of the night to try to resolve some "difficult" issues standing in the way of a deal.

The prospect of an Iran deal is a further weight on the oil market, which already faces downward pressure due to the strong dollar and lofty petroleum supplies.

"Although a deal at this point would not be unexpected, we would nonetheless consider it a fresh bearish development, bringing a return of Iranian exports and production to the market that much closer," said Tim Evans, analyst at Citi Futures. 

Gene McGillian, broker and analyst at Tradition Energy, predicted oil is "going to continue to come under pressure" because of excess crude supply.