Brent Steady As Peace Talks Continue
Brent crude oil settled below $108 on Friday morning after slipping on Thursday due to worse than expected Chinese PMI data. The commodity traded at $107.56 at 7:30 GMT as investors looked to Switzerland for details about the ongoing peace talks about Syria.
Data from China showed that the nation's factory sector contracted for the first time in six months in January. The figures added to growing concerns that the number two oil consuming nation's economy is slowing.
However, oil prices have long been supported by the ongoing crisis in Syria. Although Western diplomats are attempting to reach a peace agreement with the Syrian government and opposition, many are skeptical that the talks will produce any positive results. The negotiations started out with Secretary of State John Kerry calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's removal from office while Syrian officials accused the US and its Middle Eastern allies of supporting terrorist groups.
The fighting in Syria has been threatening to spill over the nation's borders and disrupt the fragile balance in the oil-rich Middle East. An peace agreement at this week's conference would bring Brent prices down as much of the risk of disruption would be removed.
Also weighing on Brent prices was the partial lifting of Iranian sanctions as Western Powers worked to hold up their end of a temporary deal on Iran's nuclear program. CNBC reported that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that a new investment model for oil contracts will be drawn up by September as the nation works to foster Western business relationships.
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