Oil prices end near flat on uncertain outcome from OPEC meeting

Tue Nov 22, 2016 3:35pm EST
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By Scott DiSavino

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil ended little changed on Tuesday in volatile trade that saw prices rise and fall by $1 a barrel depending on the latest comment from OPEC officials at a technical conference in Vienna on whether the cartel members would agree to an output cut.

Officials at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting tried to hammer out the details of an agreement to cut output before a formal meeting on Nov. 30.

Brent futures LCOc1 gained 22 cents, or 0.45 percent, to settle at $49.12 a barrel, its highest close since the end of October, while U.S. crude CLc1 lost 21 cents, or 0.44 percent, to finish at $48.03.

During the session, Brent gained $1 a barrel, bringing it to within four cents of $50, its highest since Oct. 28, after comments from a Nigerian official at the OPEC technical meeting that it was likely all countries would be "on board" by the end of the day.

But, prices fell, with U.S. futures down $1 a barrel, following reports the 14-member cartel would defer a decision on a deal until the Nov. 30 meeting due to the opposition of Iran and Iraq.

"We do not have a clear path to a decision on Nov. 30 and that is what the market was looking for so we are in for another eight days of uncertainty," said James Williams, president of energy consultant WTRG Economics in Arkansas.

The premium of U.S. futures for the second month CLc2 over the front-month CL-1=R, meanwhile, hit 95 cents, its highest since April, as OPEC rhetoric boosts later dated crude contracts.

OPEC is trying to bring its members and non-OPEC producer Russia to agree on a coordinated cut to prop up the market, beset by a two-year glut in supplies, by bringing production into line with consumption.   Continued...

A pump jack is seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014.   REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo