Oil flat ahead of decisive Opec meeting

Oil prices were little changed on Friday ahead of a key meeting of major oil producing nations next week, sitting below the $50 a barrel level that was briefly breached for the first time in six weeks in the previous session.

International benchmark Brent crude futures were down just 1c at $49.29 a barrel by 2.13am GMT.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $46.91 a barrel, also down 1c.

During the previous trading session both benchmarks rose to their highest levels since early June in choppy trading, having been pushed higher by data showing US crude and fuel inventories fell sharply last week.

“The impact of strong drawdown in inventories announced earlier this week was still lingering in the market,” ANZ said in a research note.

Despite the drop, US oil stocks, at about 490-million barrels, remain well above the five-year average, while US production has increased almost 12% since mid-2016 to 9.4-million barrels a day.

An abundance of global crude supplies has put pressure on oil prices and key members of oil cartel Opec are scheduled to meet non-members in St Petersburg, Russia, on Monday.

Opec, together with some non-members like Russia, has pledged to reduce the global glut with a 1.8-million barrel a day production cut between January 2017 and March 2018.

The market has been watching reports that the world’s top crude producer, Saudi Arabia, is working with other countries to draw down stocks and reduce supply, particularly as other Opec members, including Iraq and Libya, are planning increases in output.

“Brent oil still targets $50.35 a barrel,” said Reuters technical commodities analyst Wang Tao.

Source: businesslive.co.za

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