Oil Prices Soar on Renewed Hopes of OPEC Output Deal

By Devika Krishna KumarEnergyReuters

Oil prices jumped 6 percent on Tuesday, with U.S. crude notching its biggest daily percentage gain in seven months, on renewed expectations that OPEC will agree later this month to reduce a global supply glut.

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OPEC secretary-general Mohammed Barkindo will travel to member nations, including Iran and Venezuela, over the next several days to discuss the deal ahead of the group's meeting in Vienna on Nov. 30.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to an outline of the deal in September but with two weeks to go before the next meeting, disagreements persist among OPEC members and non-OPEC Russia on the exact details of the deal.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih is expected to travel to the Qatari capital, Doha, this week for meetings with oil-producing countries, including Russia, on the sidelines of an energy forum, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Traders and analysts also said last ditch efforts by OPEC triggered a wave of short covering that helped to boost prices.

"There were a lot of new speculative shorts in the market because of the growing skepticism that they would be able to clinch a deal," said Andrew Lebow, senior partner at Commodity Research Group in Darien, Connecticut, adding that those shorts got squeezed as a deal seemed more likely.

"You add to that some increased optimism over an OPEC deal and you get a $2 a move."

U.S. crude ended the session $2.49 higher at $45.81 per barrel, a 5.8 percent gain, its biggest daily percentage increase since early April.

Brent futures settled at $46.95 a barrel, up $2.52, or 5.7 percent, its biggest percentage gain since Sept. 28.

Both benchmarks also rebounded from three-month lows on Monday.

News of an attack on a major oil pipeline in Nigeria, the Nembe Creek Trunk Line in the southern Niger Delta, gave an additional push to prices.

Oil markets have not yet fully determined the effects of a Donald Trump victory in the U.S. presidential elections, analysts have said.

The Financial Times reported that Saudi Arabia warned Trump that the incoming president will risk the health of his country's economy if he acts on his election promises to block oil imports.

From a technical point of view, there was some buying in U.S. crude above the 200-day moving average, said Tony Headrick, an energy market analyst at CHS Hedging LLC.

"The extent of today's move is, I think, based in part on technicals."

The market was awaiting the release of key weekly U.S. oil inventory data, which was forecast to show a 1.5 million-barrel crude build. Industry group the American Petroleum Institute (API) will release its data at 4:30 p.m. EST (2130 GMT) and the U.S. Department of Energy report is due at 10:30 a.m. EST on Wednesday.

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