Oil hits new multi-year highs; investors eye Iran nuclear talks this week



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A maze of crude oil pipes and valves is pictured during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, U.S. June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Richard Carson/File Photo

By Florence Tan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil extended gains to hit fresh multi-year highs on Monday, underpinned by a brighter economic and fuel-demand outlook, while investors eyed the outcome of talks between Iran and world powers over a nuclear deal that is set to boost crude supplies.

futures for August rose 28 cents, or 0.4%, to $72.17 a barrel by 0107 GMT, their highest since May 2019. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for July touched $70 for the first time since October 2018 and was at $69.91 a barrel, up 29 cents, or 0.4%.

Both contracts have risen for the past two weeks as fuel demand is rebounding in the United States and Europe after governments loosened COVID-19 restrictions ahead of summer travel.

Global oil demand is expected to exceed supplies in the second half despite a gradual easing of supply cuts by OPEC+ producers, analysts say.

A slowdown in talks between Iran and global powers in reviving a 2015 nuclear deal and a drop in U.S. rig count also supported oil prices.

Iran and global powers will enter a fifth round of talks on June 10 in Vienna that could include Washington lifting economic sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

While the European Union envoy coordinating the negotiations had said he believed a deal would be struck at this week’s talks, other senior diplomats have said the most difficult decisions still lie ahead.

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Analysts expect Iran to increase its production by 500,000 to 1 million barrels per day once sanctions are lifted.

In the United States, the number of oil and rigs operating fell for the first time in six weeks as growth in drilling slowed.

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