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Oil prices in rally mode on OPEC rumors

With only guesswork to move on, crude oil prices shoot up more than 2 percent early Monday.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Oil trades sharply higher as investors work themselves into a feeding-frenzy over the latest comments from preliminary OPEC production talks in Vienna. File photo by Monika Graff/UPI
Oil trades sharply higher as investors work themselves into a feeding-frenzy over the latest comments from preliminary OPEC production talks in Vienna. File photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Oil prices were moving in wild swings in early Monday trading, erasing a 5 percent deficit overnight as investors moved quickly on the latest OPEC utterances.

Crude oil prices collapsed in overnight trading after Saudi Arabia said it might pull away from the table in Vienna amid disagreements on the best way to coordinate with members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-member states like Russia.

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OPEC is leading efforts to build consensus around an agreement to hold output at around 32.5 million barrels per day, the low end of a proposal offered in September from Algeria. OPEC last reported that its 14 members produced a combined average of 33.6 million barrels per day, meaning a cut, not a freeze, would be necessary to implement the agreement.

The overnight deficit was erased after Iraq's oil minister said Monday he was optimistic about a formal arrangement emerging from Vienna later this week when parties to the proposal sit down for actual negotiations.

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The price for Brent crude oil was up 2.2 percent to start the trading day in New York at $48.30 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for oil, was up 2.3 percent to open at $47.14 per barrel.

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Scenarios from market watchers were about as fluid as the comments coming out of preliminary talks in Vienna. Michael Haigh, the head of commodities research at Societe Generale, said there was a bullish view on OPEC, but that view was dependent on whether or not a "credible" deal came from OPEC. From SocGen's perspective, the potential for such a deal was "too close to call."

Last week, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. said there was a 60 percent chance of a successful OPEC meeting, which from its perspective would put the price for Brent at the end of 2017 at $60 per barrel. Analysis from Wood Mackenzie, meanwhile, said it was working from the assumption that nothing would come of the meetings.

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"The same obstacles toward a deal remain -- a reluctance on the part of key producers to cut production and lose market share," it said in a research note sent by email Monday morning.

Even without an agreement, however, Wood Mackenzie said Brent crude oil prices would still gain slight ground through the second half of 2017, but stay below the psychological threshold of $50 per barrel.

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