Oil Futures Rise Amid Uncertainty Surrounding Iran Nuclear Talks
Oil futures rise amid uncertainty surrounding Iran nuclear talks (Reuters).

Crude oil futures finished higher for the week as a whole with US futures logging their first gain in nearly two months amid rising inventories in the US and uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran.

The January US crude oil contract shed 60 cents to finish at $94.84 a barrel on 22 November. Prices rose 1.1% for the week, according to FactSet data.

The January Brent contract gained 97 cents to finish at $111.05 a barrel on 22 November. Prices rose about 2.4% for the week.

North Sea Brent gained through the week as western powers struggled to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, a move that would end a decade-long standoff.

A deal with Iran could ease the sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic paving the way for export of up to one million barrels of oil per day, amid higher inventory in the US, the world's largest consumer of oil.

US stockpiles have risen for nine consecutive weeks as seasonal refinery maintenance has reduced the demand for the commodity.

Tim Evans, energy analyst at Citi Futures, said in a note to clients: "Much of the market worry over a possible six-month Iranian nuclear deal was due more to the worry it might prompt other traders to sell than from any sudden jump in physical oil supplies, as lifting the oil embargo is being held as leverage for an eventual long-term agreement.

"We continue to see additional Iranian barrels as more of a possibility for the second half of 2014 than an immediate prospect," Evans added.

Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at US Bank Wealth Management, told MarketWatch that seasonally weak demand could pull down oil in 2013.

However, over the next six months, "we will shift to rising demand, and tighter supplies as refineries shift to maintenance periods to produce summer gasoline blends".

As such, the US market would witness modest price increases in the first quarter of 2014, Haworth added.