Oil broadly stable as OPEC+ offsets Iran nuclear signals

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LONDON — Oil prices were broadly stable on Wednesday as the OPEC+ producer group said it would raise its oil output target by only 100,000 barrels per day (bpd), dashing U.S. hopes of a meaningful supply boost.

Weighing on prices, meanwhile, top Iranian and U.S. officials said they were traveling to Vienna to resume indirect talks about Iran’s nuclear program, reviving the all but vanished hopes of a removal of sanctions hampering Iranian oil exports.

Brent crude futures were down 14 cents cents, or 0.1%, at $100.40 a barrel by 1337 GMT. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures slipped by 31 cents, or 0.3%, to $94.11. Both contracts had seesawed previously.

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The premium for front-month Brent futures over barrels loading in six months’ time is at a three-month low, indicating concern over tight supply are abating.

Ministers for members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia, together known as OPEC+, agreed the small increase to the group’s output target, equal to about 0.1% of global oil demand.

While the United States has asked the group to boost output, spare capacity is limited and Saudi Arabia may be reluctant to beef up output at the expense of OPEC+ partner Russia, hit by sanctions over the Ukraine conflict.

Ahead of the meeting, OPEC+ trimmed its forecast for the oil market surplus this year by 200,000 bpd to 800,000 bpd, three delegates told Reuters.

Meanwhile, data from the American Petroleum Institute showed that U.S. crude stocks rose by about 2.2 million barrels for the week ended July 29. Gasoline inventories fell by 200,000 barrels and distillate stocks by about 350,000 barrels.

Official data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due at 1430 GMT. (Additional reporting by Sonali Paul and Emily Chow Editing by David Holmes and David Goodman)

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