Oil Fluctuates Ahead of OPEC Report

By Neanda SalvaterraFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Crude futures fluctuated between gains and losses on Tuesday, ahead of an anticipated OPEC oil production report and on concerns of waning U.S. demand.

Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, rose 0.50% to $54.11 a barrel on London's ICE Futures exchange. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were trading up 0.10% at $48.11 a barrel.

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Hurricane Harvey disrupted refinery production in Texas last month and more recently Hurricane Irma left more than seven million homes without electricity in Florida.

Analysts anticipate the power outages and the evacuation of the region may damp consumer appetite for crude.

"The market is assessing what is happening after the two hurricanes and there is concern that demand is down in Florida," said Miswin Mahesh, an oil market analyst at Energy Aspects. "There is also a lot of talk about whether OPEC is going to extend its deal or not and the market is weighing a lot of outcomes."

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, of which Saudi Arabia is the largest member, and 10 other producers including Russia first agreed late last year to cut about 2% of global oil production.

The goal of the deal, which was extended in May, was to drain a global oversupply that has kept prices depressed. But the oil cartel has struggled to raise oil prices amid an oil production boom in the U.S.

Crude prices are down 8.6% in the last year.

Recently OPEC said it was open to extending its effort to reduce the global petroleum glut by withholding supplies beyond March of next year.

The talks about an extension will take place at the oil cartel's next meeting in November.

The new deal may include OPEC members Libya and Nigeria, which are exempt from the current agreement.

Resurgent production in the two African countries has caused headaches for other cartel members such as Saudi Arabia, which cut its production to below 10 million barrels per day in August but isn't seeing dramatically increased revenue from higher prices.

Moreover, OPEC may also place "stricter requirements" on Iran's oil production, said Commerzbank analysts in a recent report.

Traders will be watching for OPEC's monthly oil report Tuesday, as well as preliminary data on U.S. production.

Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock--the benchmark gasoline contract--rose 0.9% to $1.65 a gallon. ICE gasoil changed hands at $514.00 a metric ton, down $2.75 from the previous settlement.

Write to Neanda Salvaterra at neanda.salvaterra@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 12, 2017 07:43 ET (11:43 GMT)