Oil falls on higher supplies, Iran diplomacy

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Global oil prices fell more than $1 per barrel on Monday despite upbeat economic data from China and Europe, as higher crude output from Iraq and a possible thaw in U.S.-Iran relations boosted the supply outlook.

Oil prices plummeted last week as Lybia’s production recovered to nearly 40 percent of pre-war capacity after protesters agreed to reopen major western fields, and as fears of U.S.-led military action against Syria faded.

Libya’s eastern Hariga port could reopen this week but negotiations were continuing in hopes of ending a dispute that has shut larger eastern terminals for weeks, the head of the energy committee in parliament said on Monday.

“There’s been a lot of progress in Libya and that’s outweighing some of the positive data from China and Europe,” said Joseph Basilico, senior vice president of energy derivatives at Jefferies Bache in New York.

Brent crude for November delivery fell to the day’s low of $107.83 a barrel and was down $1.30 at $107.92 at 11:24 a.m. EDT (1524 GMT). U.S. crude for November fell $1.38 to $103.37 a barrel.

Iraq, a key OPEC producer, said on Monday it boosted output from its southern oilfields after repairing a leaking pipeline.

More oil is also coming from South Sudan as it raised output to the highest level since it resumed exports through Sudan.

“The return to the market of Libyan and South Sudanese supply is weighing on prices. South Sudan is currently producing 240,000 barrels of crude oil per day, the highest volume since oil production was shut down in January 2012,” Commerzbank senior oil analyst Carsten Fritsch said.

The bearish mood for oil also drew support from the possibility of a groundbreaking meeting between leaders of the United States and Iran on the sidelines of the United Nations gathering this week.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is aiming to set the tone for further nuclear talks with world powers which he hopes will bring relief from sanctions, according to diplomats and analysts.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will join the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany later this week to discuss the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Monday.

Exports from Iran, one of the largest crude producers, have more than halved in recent years to around 1 million barrels per day in 2012 due to tightening sanctions.

China’s flash HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) hit a six-month high, putting to rest investors’ worries of a sharp slowdown in the world’s second largest economy.

In the eurozone, China’s largest business partner, the Markit Flash Composite PMI showed business activity has grown faster than expected this month as new orders flood in at their fastest pace in over two years.

U.S. manufacturing activity growth slowed in September as demand for products declined and firms took on fewer workers, an industry report showed on Monday, said financial data firm Markit.

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