Oil prices increased slightly on Tuesday morning in Asia as investors stepped back to absorb US inventories and output by the three largest producers of the world.
Crude Oil WTI Futures for delivery in October were practically flat, higher 0.03 percent to $67.56. Brent Oil Futures, which are traded in London, were higher 0.17 percent to $77.50.
Both oil benchmarks were lower from a day earlier after pulling back from a short rally in US trading earlier on Monday.
Investors are focused on published data that indicates crude inventories in the US are increasing despite a lowering rig count. The total rig count in the United States has dropped by two to 860, according to energy services company Baker Hughes.
Still, investors are poised for the probability of higher oil prices as US sanctions against Iran, which is the biggest oil exporter in the world, take effect in November. Energy consultancy FGE has reported that India, Japan, and South Korea have been among the oil buyers slashing down on Iran crude purchases.
One strategist from French bank BNP Paribas stated during a global oil forum that oil prices could be pushed past the $80 mark by the mixture of sanctions on Iran and production instability in Libya and Venezuela.
US Energy Secretary Rick Perry held a meeting on Monday with officials from Saudi Arabia. He is also set to meet officials from Russia on Thursday. Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the US are the largest oil producers in the world.
The three nations currently produce about a third of the world’s consumption. The output from them has increased 3.8 million barrels per day, which is more than what Iran produces. Iran’s production has peaked at 3 million barrels per day over the past three years.
Perry is reportedly aiming to encourage them to keep output up even as sanctions against Iran start the ball rolling.
Saudi Arabia stated on Wednesday that the country is seeking to keep oil prices between $70 to $80.
Officials from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries as well as non-OPEC officials will meet later in September to discuss any increases in output, after the groups decided in June to bolster output on a moderate level.
Gold priced, meanwhile, edged down on Tuesday morning in Asian trading.
Demand for gold, which is a safe haven asset, has inched up over the past couple weeks though expectations of a strong recovery in gold prices may been premature, in spite of the increased buying in Asian markets, specifically in India.
Gold futures for delivery in December were trading 0.06 percent lower at $1,999.10 per troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.