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Oil falls to near $96 after weeks of strong gains

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 4, 2013 at 2:18 pm •  Published: February 4, 2013

In response Iran has threatened to disrupt the flow of oil through the Middle East.

On Saturday, while on a visit in Germany, Vice President Joe Biden said Washington was ready for direct talks with Iran over its nuclear program, which Teheran insists is only for peaceful purposes. The Iranian foreign minister on Sunday welcomed Biden's gesture but did not commit to taking up the offer.

Negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany have made little progress and analysts welcomed the possibility of direct talks.

"It seems that small steps in that direction have started," said Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix in Switzerland. "The U.S. had its election, Israel had its election but Iran still needs to go through its elections in June and that could still be a delay in the formal process but already a small change of dynamics will be important."

If Iranian oil that is now embargoed can return to the market, supplies will rise and prices could fall.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 4 cents to finish at $3.01 per gallon.

— Natural gas rose 1 cent to end at $3.32 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil lost less than 1 cent to finish at $3.15 a gallon.