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Futures Movers: U.S. oil prices fall below $90 a barrel as traders watch Iran talks


Oil futures moved lower Tuesday, continuing a pullback from levels last seen in 2014 as traders monitored talks aimed at returning Iran to an international nuclear accord and allowing the country to resume crude exports.

Price action

West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery CL.1, -2.17% CLH22, -2.17% fell $1.92, or 2.1%, to $89.40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after the U.S. benchmark on Monday snapped a six-day win streak that had taken it to levels last seen in September 2014.
April Brent crude BRN00, -2.15% BRNJ22, -2.15%, the global benchmark, fell $1.93, or 2.1%, to $90.76 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. The global benchmark broke a three-day winning streak Monday, after ending last week at its highest since October 2014.
March natural gas NGH22, +1.91% rose 2.2% to $4.323 per million British thermal units.
March gasoline RBH22, -2.34% fell 2.3% to $2.624 a gallon, while March heating oil HOH22, -3.11% was down 3.1% at $2.768 a gallon.

Market drivers

Negotiations aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal resumed in Vienna on Tuesday. The U.S., an indirect participant in the talks, exited the deal in 2018 under President Donald Trump, renewing sanctions on Iran that prevent it from large-scale exports of crude. Iran responded by increasing the amount and purity of the uranium it enriches, a violation of the accord.

The Biden administration on Friday waived sanctions on some of Iran’s civilian nuclear activities in a move observers took as a sign of progress toward an agreement.

“Besides the feel good-vibe coming from the negotiations, the Biden administration is feeling pressure to lower inflation, and the fastest way to do that would be to lower energy prices,” said Robert Yawger, executive director of energy futures at Mizuho, in a note. “I do think that the Biden administration is more likely to get a deal done versus $90 a barrel than they would be versus $50.”

Worries remain, however, over the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Kyiv Tuesday after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday. Russia has massed around 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine. Moscow has insisted it has no plans to invade, but has demanded concessions on security arrangements from Western powers and NATO.

Analysts forecast that the Energy Information Administration will report on Wednesday a 100,000-barrel rise in U.S. crude supplies for the week ended Feb. 4, according to an S&P Global Platts survey. They also expect a climb of 1.4 million barrels for gasoline stockpiles and a decline of 600,000 barrels for distillate inventories.

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