Oil Prices Waver Ahead of November OPEC meeting

By Christopher Alessi Features Dow Jones Newswires

Oil prices wavered between gains and losses Thursday, as the market held steady in a newfound, higher range for crude.

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Light, sweet crude for December delivery was recently flat at $52.18 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, fluctuating between higher and lower prices throughout morning trading. Brent, the global benchmark, lost 8 cents, or 0.1%, to $58.36 a barrel.

Prices "seem to be in limbo a little bit," said Thomas Pugh, a commodities economist at Capital Economics. "Everyone is looking forward to the OPEC meeting at the end of next month."

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is expected to debate extending its production-cutting agreement through 2018 at its next official meeting in Vienna on Nov. 30.

OPEC and some major producers outside the cartel, including Russia, first agreed late last year to cap their production at around 1.8 million barrels a day lower than peak October 2016 levels, with the aim of alleviating global oversupply and boosting prices. The deal was extended in May through March 2018.

The production cuts have helped drain inventories in the U.S. and elsewhere in the developed world, but crude prices have still remained stuck below the Saudi target of $60 a barrel.

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Saudi Arabia and Russia -- the world's two largest crude producers -- want to extend the deal through the end of next year, people familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

Crude prices had pulled back Wednesday following the release of U.S. inventory data, showing a 856,000-barrel rise in crude stockpiles in the week ended Oct. 20. Analysts and traders surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had been expecting crude inventories to have decreased by 2.2 million barrels, on average.

However, gasoline and diesel supplies fell by 5.5 million barrels and 5.2 million barrels, respectively, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The EIA data also showed U.S. oil production had returned to pre-hurricane levels, climbing to more than 9.5 million barrels a day.

Gasoline futures declined 0.5% to $1.7270 a gallon and diesel prices fell 0.1% to $1.8162 a gallon.

--Stephanie Yang and Summer Said contributed to this article.

Write to Christopher Alessi at christopher.alessi@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 26, 2017 11:53 ET (15:53 GMT)