Oil Prices Yo-Yo Ahead of Crude Market Data

By Neanda SalvaterraFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Oil prices were mixed Monday ahead of the release of two highly anticipated reports on global crude supply and demand.

Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, fell 0.67% to $55.25 a barrel on London's ICE Futures exchange. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were trading up 0.04% at $49.30 a barrel.

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Investors were in a wait-and-see mode ahead of the release of oil market data from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Wednesday and the International Energy Agency on Thursday.

Crude prices stabilized after falling more than 2% on Friday, as around 90% of U.S. oil infrastructure was shut down in the Gulf of Mexico in preparation for Hurricane Nate, which ended up having little impact on the U.S. oil market.

Some U.S. export terminals have already reopened, according to analysts. But the closures will distort U.S. inventory data, making it more difficult to assess the American oil market, analysts said.

Investors may also be suffering from buyer's remorse.

"There appears to be growing doubt among market participants as to whether the price rise of recent weeks is justified," said Commerzbank analysts in a recent note. "Among other things, this was due to the possible extension of the production cuts until the end of 2018."

Brent hit a two-year high earlier in October on positive sentiment about OPEC's continuing effort to rebalance the market and eliminate about 2% of global supply with the help of external producers such as Russia.

A high-level meeting between OPEC member Saudi Arabia and Russia on Thursday yielded few commitments regarding an extension of the cuts into the second half of next year and investors dialed down their expectations for a continued supply action.

Although global stockpiles have fallen, they remain well above the five-year average the cuts have set as a target.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is expected to refuse to certify that Iran is in compliance with the 2015 international nuclear agreement, which could trigger additional U.S. sanctions against Tehran. In the past Mr. Trump has called the accord "the worst deal ever."

"The U.S. might decertify Iran and that is another thing that we will be watching for. It can bring an additional layer of geopolitical uncertainty," said Olivier Jakob, managing director at oil consultancy Petromatrix. "

Iran boosted its oil production after international sanctions against the nation were removed in early 2016 as part of a nuclear deal with six world powers.

Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock--the benchmark gasoline contract--fell 0.99% to $1.54 a gallon. ICE gasoil changed hands at $511.75 a metric ton, down $4.00 from the previous settlement.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 09, 2017 07:14 ET (11:14 GMT)