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Futures Movers: Oil prices end lower following another round of 7-year highs

Oil futures finished lower on 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, -0.84% CL00, -0.84% CLH22, -0.84% fell 99 cents, or 1.1%, to settle at $91.32 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, +0.23% BRNJ22, +0.23%, the global benchmark, lost 58 cents, or 0.6%, at $92.69 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, after ending Friday at its highest since early October 2014.
March natural-gas futures NGH22, -6.23% fell 7.4% to $4.232 per million British thermal units.
March gasoline futures RBH22, +0.45% rose nearly 0.3% to $2.685 a gallon.
March heating-oil futures HOH22, -0.63% lost 0.7% at $2.855 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.

Recent oil price momentum is “stabilizing” as nuclear talks between the U.S.-Iran appear to be “making positive noise,” Pat Thaker, editorial director, Middle East & Africa at Economist Intelligence Unit, said in emailed commentary.

Biden’s decision to restore some sanction waivers and the inability of OPEC+ to hit output targets “could ease the market tightness, and prevent oil prices from hitting $100 [a] barrel,” she said.

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.

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.

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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