News 6 december — 15:28

Oil prices plunge anew


Crude-oil prices plunged anew early Thursday amid a closely watched OPEC gathering in Vienna, where major producers have yet to reach an agreement on anticipated output cuts, according to an official, Market Watch reports.

West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery CLF9, -3.23%  lost $2.06, or 3.9%, to $50.83 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract tumbled 22% in November, the biggest monthly fall since October 2008.

Global benchmark February Brent crude LCOG9, -3.05%  traded $2.26, or 3.7%, to $59.67 a barrel.

The selloff extends a rocky stretch for oil markets over the past few weeks. Concerns about rising global crude supply, combined with anxieties about the health of global economic growth—and its implications for oil demand—have sent crude prices sharply down.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partner producers, including Russia, are gathering in Vienna to debate an output deal. The cartel is under pressure to support prices, which have fallen by more than 30% since reaching multiyear highs in October.

On Thursday, Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said there was no agreement yet on production cuts. He said a cut of 1 million barrels a day would be sufficient to balance the market, but all options were on the table.

“As ministers gather…the general belief is that some kind of cut will be agreed—anywhere between 1 [million] and 1.5 million barrels a day,” said Tamas Varga, an oil analyst at brokerage PVM.

If no deal is reached, “prices would fall in the foreseeable future,” Varga added.

There are a number of stumbling blocks to reaching a decision. Iran, OPEC’s third-biggest producer, said Thursday that it can’t participate in any cuts until the U.S. lifts sanctions against the country. The country’s oil minister, Bijan Zangeneh, said Thursday that oil prices between $60 and $70 a barrel would be acceptable.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump raised pressure on OPEC to keep oil production flowing. He tweeted Wednesday, “Hopefully OPEC will be keeping oil flows as is, not restricted. The World doesn’t want to see, or need, higher oil prices!”

The decline in crude-oil prices, considered a risk asset in the investing complex, comes as jitters pegged to international trade relations between China and the U.S. escalated. Market tension intensified after the arrest of Huawei Technologies’s CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada at the request of the U.S.

“We start today with global equity markets under renewed heavy pressure, which is not the best environment for oil if OPEC is not able to produce a convincing supply reduction agreement,” said Olivier Jakob, managing director of consulting firm Petromatrix.

Trade disputes have raised questions about global growth and demand for crude, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -3.10% and the S&P 500 indexSPX, -3.24% poised to tumble anew, after being closed on Wednesday in observance of the national day of mourning for former President George H.W. Bush.

Looking ahead, the Energy Information Administration is expected to report inventory data—a day later than usual because of the day of mourning—that could provide further guidance to oil investors.

On average, analysts surveyed by S&P Global Platts expect the EIA to report a decline of 2.39 million barrels in crude supplies. If realised, that would be the first fall reported by the EIA in 11 weeks.

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