Oil falls as investors expect little from Doha meeting
By Devika Krishna Kumar
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices fell on Friday in subdued trade as traders and analysts anticipate a weekend meeting of major oil exporters to do little to help to clear global oversupply quickly, even though it would provide a floor for the market.
All eyes are on Doha as producers, led by top exporters Saudi Arabia and Russia, meet on Sunday to discuss freezing output around current levels in an effort to contain a glut exacerbated by production that exceeds demand by about 1.5 million barrels a day.
It would be the first joint action by major OPEC and non-OPEC producers in 15 years, although Iran has refused to participate, saying that it wants to rebuild its output to levels achieved before imposition of the recently lifted economic sanctions.
"Unless there's a total surprise, the likelihood is that the Doha meeting on Sunday between OPEC/non-OPEC will produce something very wishy washy and will be nothing more than smoke and mirrors," one trader said. "I therefore want to sell crude today."
Traders said profit-taking by funds ahead of the meeting also added to the pressure on prices in the session.
Brent crude futures LCOc1 settled down 74 cents at $43.10 while U.S. crude CLc1 ended down $1.14 cents at $40.36. Both contracts lost more than 3.5 percent earlier in the day. However, on a weekly basis, prices were higher for the second week in a row in the run up to the meeting.
Oil also trimmed some losses after data from Baker Hughes showed U.S. energy firms cut oil rigs for a fourth week in a row to the lowest level since November 2009.
With discussions among producers focusing on freezing output rather than cutting it, most analysts said they had little hope for a deal that reduces the global oversupply. Continued...