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Oil falls 1% as US-Iran optimism faces US-China trade deal hopes

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Oil prices fell 1 per cent on Monday on the outlook for increased supply of Iranian crude after France's president lifted hopes for a deal between Washington and Tehran, but losses were limited by optimism surrounding a US-China trade deal.

[NEW YORK] Oil prices fell 1 per cent on Monday on the outlook for increased supply of Iranian crude after France's president lifted hopes for a deal between Washington and Tehran, but losses were limited by optimism surrounding a US-China trade deal.

Brent crude lost 64 cents, or 1.1 per cent, to settle at US$58.70 a barrel, after hitting a session high of US$60.17.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled 53 cents, or 1 per cent, lower at US$53.64 a barrel.

Prices fell after French President Emmanuel Macron said preparations were underway for a meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and US President Donald Trump in the coming weeks to find a solution to a nuclear standoff.

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Market voices on:

Mr Trump last year abandoned Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, arguing that he wanted a bigger deal that not only limited Iran's atomic work, but also reined in its support for proxies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon, and curbed its ballistic missile program.

Mr Trump also tightened sanctions on Iran in May to try to choke off its oil exports.

"Now the market is pondering the possibility that we'll see a flood or Iranian oil come onto the market if there's progress made," said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. "We have to be admittedly cautious because we've heard of deals one minute only to be tweeted down the next minute."

Buoying prices, Mr Trump said after a G-7 summit of world leaders in Biarritz, France, that he believed China was sincere about wanting to reach a deal.

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He, who has been leading the talks with Washington, said China was willing to resolve the dispute through "calm" negotiations and opposed any increase in trade tensions.

Oil prices have fallen about 20 per cent from a 2019 high reached in April in part because of worries that the US-China trade conflict is hurting the global economy, which could dent demand for oil.

China's Commerce Ministry said last week it would impose additional tariffs of 5 per cent or 10 per cent on a total of 5,078 products originating from the United States, including crude oil, agricultural products and small aircraft.

In retaliation, Mr Trump said he was ordering US companies to look at ways to close operations in China and make products in the United States.

"We are maintaining a market view that includes continued high-pitched price volatility that will be driven largely by headlines related to US-China trade talks or lack thereof," Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note.

REUTERS