Global Markets: Oil Poised for Sixth Weekly Loss

(Bloomberg) — Oil is poised for a sixth weekly loss, trading near $57 a barrel as lingering concerns over a supply glut continue to weigh on the market.

Futures in New York rose 1.1 percent on Friday, trimming the weekly drop to 5.2 percent. Government data on Thursday showed American crude inventories rose the most in 21 months last week as output hit a record high. With the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries seeing declining demand for its oil, the group and its allies are said to be considering bigger-than-expected cuts despite criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump.

Oil is in a bear market after plunging from a four-year high in October on concerns over a glut, following surprise American waivers allowing some Iranian oil flows to continue even after its sanctions against the Islamic Republic took effect. Meanwhile, the outlook for demand remains uncertain due to ongoing trade tensions between the U.S. and China. And speculation is swirling over the output strategy of OPEC and its allies including Russia before they meet in Vienna in early December.

“It remains to be seen whether oil markets have bottomed out with a price slump coming to a pause” with various reports pointing to a loosening supply and demand balance, Jun Inoue, a senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute Ltd., said by phone from Tokyo. “The prospect of OPEC and allies cutting production and maintaining it for a certain period of time could increase as their December meeting approaches, supporting prices.”

West Texas Intermediate for December delivery traded 61 cents higher at $57.07 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 4:53 p.m. in Tokyo. The contract advanced 21 cents to $56.46 on Thursday. Total volume traded was about 9 percent below the 100-day average.

Brent for January settlement rose $1 to $67.62 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract has dropped 3.5 percent this week. The global benchmark crude traded at a $10.18 premium to WTI for the same month.

The dollar staying near an 18-month high has also reduced the appeal of commodities priced in the U.S. currency.

As oil was mired in a record 12-day losing streak this month, Saudi Arabia proposed an output cut of 1 million barrels a day, a u-turn from a June decision to boost supply. People familiar with the matter said the reduction may be even bigger. Still, the effect on benchmark prices may be “muted,” according to Morgan Stanley, as the current glut is in light-sweet crude varieties, whereas OPEC would primarily be curbing medium and heavier grades.

Investors are also assessing signals from OPEC’s key ally, Russia. President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday an oil price of “around $70 suits us completely.” Energy Minister Alexander Novak also suggested earlier this week the country is in no rush to act immediately.

Meanwhile, rising U.S. crude inventories have added to oversupply concerns. U.S. stockpiles rose 10.27 million barrels last week, according to the Energy Information Administration, compared with expectations for a 3.2-million-barrel increase. Crude production edged higher to a record 11.7 million barrels.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tsuyoshi Inajima in Tokyo at tinajima@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Pratish Narayanan at pnarayanan9@bloomberg.net Ovais Subhani, Sungwoo Park

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