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Futures Movers: Oil rally takes a breather after another round of 7-year highs


Oil futures pulled back Monday after a seventh straight week of gains, with traders noting signs of progress on negotiations around Iran nuclear sanctions.

Price action

West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery CL.1, -0.29% CL00, -0.29% CLH22, -0.29% fell $1, or 1.1%, to $91.31 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after the U.S. benchmark on Friday logged its highest finish since September 2014.
April Brent crude BRN00, +0.05% BRNJ22, +0.05%, the global benchmark, was off 50 cents, or 0.6%, at $92.77 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, after ending Friday at its highest since early October 2014.
March natural-gas futures NGH22, -4.70% fell 3.4% to $4.418 per million British thermal units.
March gasoline futures RBH22, +0.62% rose 0.2% to $2.6827 a gallon.
March heating-oil futures HOH22, +0.67% were up 0.6% at $2.8943 a gallon.

Key drivers

The Biden administration waived sanctions on some of Iran’s civilian nuclear activities as it attempts to close a deal that would see Tehran return to the 2015 nuclear pact, The Wall Street Journal reported late Friday. The U.S. will allow foreign companies and officials to work on some nonweapons Iranian nuclear facilities, reversing a decision by the Trump administration in 2020 to sanction that work, the report said.

Analysts saw the move as a further sign of progress toward restoring the Iran nuclear deal, which would see the lifting of sanctions on Iranian crude exports.

Analysts said rising U.S. gasoline prices, which have topped $3.40 a gallon at the pump, could be prodding the Biden administration to push more aggressively toward an Iran deal.

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President Joe Biden’s attempts “to drive down gasoline prices by releasing strategic reserves have failed…This is possibly why there now appears to be some movement in the stalled nuclear talks with Iran,” said Carsten Fritsch, analyst at Commerzbank, in a note. “If the oil sanctions were also to be relaxed, this could help ease the oil market.”

Also on Friday, Saudi Aramco lifted March prices on crude exports, according to news reports, a move that was expected, though the $1.70-a-barrel rise for Europe was “particularly marked,” Fritsch said, reflecting strong demand and a desire by the Saudis not to take market share away from Russia as tensions between Moscow and the West over Ukraine continue.

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