Oil Slips as Trump and France's Macron Talk Iran Deal


NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - Oil prices slipped on Tuesday as concerns that the United States might reinstate sanctions against Iran faded somewhat, alleviating worries about the future of Iranian exports.

U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to seek stronger measures to contain Iran. At a joint news conference, Trump did not repeat threats to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement but made clear he has little patience for it.

Renewed sanctions against Tehran could harm Iran's ability to export its crude.

Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage OANDA, said new sanctions against Tehran "could push oil prices up as much as $5 per barrel."

Brent slid 85 cents, or 1.1 percent, to settle at $73.86 a barrel. Earlier in the session it hit $75.47, its highest since November 2014. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 94 cents to $67.70.

WTI's discount to Brent <WTCLc1-LCOc1> was as wide as $6.32 on Tuesday, the most since Jan. 2, on rising U.S. production.

"We're still really nestled within 3-1/2 year highs," said Gene McGillian, manager of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

"With oil prices near $70, a dollar here or there is not really enough to move the needle," he said.

Before slipping, Brent hit its highest since Nov. 27, 2014, which is the day that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries decided that it would not curb global output. Prices subsequently went on a multi-year plunge.

Oil began recovering in 2016 as OPEC discussed a return to market management with the help of Russia and other non-members. A deal to rein in output started in January 2017.

Meanwhile, oil demand in top consumer Asia has reached record levels.

"Prices are being driven up by tight supply due to high production outages in Venezuela plus the cuts implemented by OPEC and Russia," said Carsten Fritsch, analyst at Commerzbank. "What is more, demand appears robust."

Growing U.S. demand, indicated by strong refinery utilization rates, is very supportive to prices, said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho.

"You could get rid of all of these geopolitical headlines -Syria, trade - and if you did that, you would still have a very impressive demand situation in the United States," he said.


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