US crude rises 29 cents, settling at $49.58, after OPEC signals possible extension to output cuts

Key Points
  • Other oil producers may join an output pact, maybe at a November meeting, OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said.
  • U.S. oil facilities shut ahead of Hurricane Nate are planning to reopen Monday.
  • Speculators raised their bullish bets on U.S. crude futures, CFTC data showed.
Oil pumpjacks in the Permian Basin oil field are getting to work as crude oil prices gain.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Oil prices inched higher on Monday after one of the most bearish weeks in months, propped up by OPEC comments signaling the possibility of further action to restore market balance in the long term.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is due to meet in Vienna on Nov. 30, when it will discuss its pact to reduce output in order to prop up the market.

OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said on Sunday consultations were under way for an extension of the agreement beyond March 2018 and that more oil-producing nations may join the pact, possibly at next month's meeting.

He also said OPEC members and other producers may have to take some "extraordinary measures" to ensure the market is in balance in the long term.

In a speech to the Reuters Global Commodities Summit on Monday, Barkindo said he saw clear evidence the oil market was rebalancing.

Another slide in oil prices ahead?
Another slide in oil prices ahead?

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures ended Monday's session 29 cents higher at $49.58 per barrel. They came close to a four-week low when they fell to $49.13 earlier in the session. WTI's losses last week came to 4.6 percent.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were up 22 cents at $55.84 a barrel at 2:29 p.m. ET (1829 GMT). Earlier in the session it touched a three-week low of $55.06. It ended last week 3.3 percent lower, its biggest weekly loss since June 2017.

Oil production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico also started returning to service after Hurricane Nate forced the shutdown of more than 90 percent of crude output in the area. The prospective restarts kept price gains in check.

Nate has become a post-tropical cyclone that continues to pack heavy rain and gusty winds, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Monday.

"Quiet market overall this morning though (refined) products are weaker as it looks like Nate was a non-event for refining," said Scott Shelton, broker at ICAP in Durham, North Carolina.

"I think that without the support of products and Brent, the market may get dragged lower in the near term as it's apparent that the market doesn't care much about OPEC already jawboning about an extension of the deal."

In further signs that OPEC members are sticking to agreed output cuts, Saudi Arabia said it had curtailed crude allocations for November by 560,000 barrels per day and Iraq's oil minister said the country was fully committed to its OPEC production target.

Hurricane Nate shuts down about 90% of Gulf of Mexico oil production
Hurricane Nate shuts down about 90% of Gulf of Mexico oil production

Among other bullish news for oil, Morgan Stanley cut its forecast for U.S. crude output growth, citing a range of operational headwinds including limited availability of fracking crews.

Still, U.S. exports have surged as the price of U.S. WTI futures has been trading at a steep discount to Brent.

"Higher U.S. exports are likely to encourage U.S. shale producers to further increase production, which will delay market rebalancing," Capital Economics said in a note.

"It will take an increase in end-user demand or a reduction in supply to actually help the market to rebalance."

Money managers raised their bullish bets on U.S. crude futures for the third week in a row, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission reported on Friday.

However, data published by InterContinental Exchange showed investors had slightly reduced their bets on rising Brent prices in the week ending Oct. 3.