Oil prices ease after Iran offers talks
Oil prices eased in Asian trading on Monday after Iran offered over the weekend to negotiate on its nuclear drive, dealers said.
New York's main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for August delivery, fell $1.56 to $143.73 a barrel from Thursday's close of $145.29. US markets were closed Friday for the Independence Day holiday.
Brent North Sea crude for August delivery fell one cent to USD 144.41.
"There is some kind of relaxing on the part of Iran," said Tony Nunan, a manager with Mitsubishi Corp's international petroleum business in Tokyo.
"So any kind of reduction in tension there will take some of the price pressure off," he said.
Driven partly by international tensions over Iran, oil broke a series of price records last week, continuing the momentum begun at the start of the year when oil pushed through USD 100 for the first time.
The price surge has triggered fears about inflation and slower economic growth, while sparking protests around the world.
Iran on Saturday offered to negotiate on its nuclear drive but without a freeze on uranium enrichment, in its first comments since responding to an international package aimed at ending the standoff.
Six world powers are offering Iran technology and negotiations if it suspends uranium enrichment, which the West fears could be used to make atomic weapons. Iran is the world's number four crude producer.
While Iran offered to negotiate, its military chiefs warned that the Islamic republic would shut down the Strait of Hormuz, which is vital for oil exports, and use "blitzkrieg tactics" in the Gulf if it came under attack.