Oil skids 0.4%; gold falls 0.8% on Fed tapering bets

NEW YORK (Sept 24)  Oil futures fell for a fourth straight session as bets over a diplomatic solution to Syria and Iran further eased worries over Middle East oil supplies. But prices held their ground above $103 a barrel by the close. 

November crude skidded 0.4 percent to close at $103.13 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have now tallied a four-session loss of 4.5 percent. 

Contact between President Barack Obama and Iran’s Hassan Rohani at the United Nations General Assembly is possible today in New York. Any interaction would be a significant symbol of a shift in relations between the countries. The UN Security Council is working toward an agreement to disarm Syria’s chemical weapons.

Recent overtures from Iran may offer a basis for a “meaningful agreement” to resolve the confrontation over the country’s nuclear program, Obama told world leaders today at the UN. Sanctions aimed at stopping the Islamic republic’s nuclear program have hindered its ability to export oil.

Iran is a key player in Syria’s civil war, nuclear proliferation and Middle East peace. It has the world’s fourth-largest proven oil reserves after Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Canada, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

Any presidential encounter would mark the first exchange between leaders of the two nations since the 1979 Islamic revolution, during which the U.S. embassy in Tehran was stormed and 52 Americans inside were held hostage for 444 days.

Moving to the metals markets, gold futures fell for a third consecutive session, still weighed down by the possibility of a reduction in U.S. monetary stimulus.

December gold dropped 0.8 percent to finish at $1,316.30 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. 

Prices touched a low under $1,306 earlier and including Tuesday, they've fallen 3.9% in three sessions.

Elsewhere in metals, December silver fell 1.2 percent to $21.59 an ounce, and copper for December delivery surrendered 1.3 percent to settle at $3.26 a pound.

December palladium ticked up 0.3 percent to end at $720 an ounce after earlier declines.