The price of oil dipped below $93 a barrel Tuesday, awaiting new cues from U.S. economic indicators, reports on crude stockpiles and the resumption of negotiations in Geneva on curbing Iran's nuclear program.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery was down 28 cents at $92.75 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 81 cents to $93.03 on Monday.
Oil has traded between $93 and $96 a barrel over the past two weeks, and is down from nearly $110 a barrel in early October due to ample supplies and tepid demand. U.S. retail sales due Wednesday might halt oil's recent slide if the figures show increased demand for gasoline.
Iran, meanwhile, will resume talks this week in Geneva with the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany aimed at resolving a decade-long standoff over Iran's nuclear program. The powers are offering a gradual rollback of sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy, raising concerns of an influx of Iranian oil into world markets at a time of already abundant supplies.
Fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products is approaching. Data for the week ending Nov. 15 is expected to show draws of 500,000 barrels in crude oil stocks and 150,000 barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
The American Petroleum Institute will release its report on oil stocks later Tuesday, while the report from the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration — the market benchmark — will be out on Wednesday.
If confirmed, the fall in crude oil stocks would be the first in nearly two months. On Nov. 8, crude stocks were 12.8 percent above their five-year average. Gasoline stocks, however, have fallen for five weeks in a row.
"U.S. crude prices may gain some support from slowly improving crude inventory statistics," said analysts at Sucden Financial Research in London. "Participants will be closely watching API inventory data ... which may lift markets off their recent multi-month lows."
Brent crude for January delivery, the benchmark for an international variety of crude, was down 42 cents at $108.05 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London. In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline was unchanged at $2.6364 a gallon. — Heating oil fell 0.22 cent to $2.9222 a gallon. — Natural gas added 0.3 cent to $3.62 per 1,000 cubic feet.