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US crude tumbles 2.7%, settling at $65.06, as the market braces for rise in OPEC output

Key Points
  • OPEC, Russia and other allies look poised to increase output in their meeting in Vienna, Austria on June 22-23.
  • Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said his country and Saudi Arabia supported a gradual increase in production after restricting output for 18 months.
  • Attack have shut major Libyan oil ports, slashing production.
A pump jack operates at a well site leased by Devon Energy Production Co. near Guthrie, Oklahoma.
Nick Oxford | Reuters

Oil prices fell sharply Friday as two of the world's biggest producers, Saudi Arabia and Russia, indicated they were prepared to increase output ahead of an OPEC meeting in Vienna next week.

Crude futures fell in tandem with the U.S. stock market. The Dow tumbled more than 200 points after President Donald Trump said he will soon put tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese exports, raising fears of a broadening trade war.

U.S. light crude ended Friday's session down $1.83, or 2.7 percent, to $65.06. Benchmark Brent crude oil was down $2.46, or 3.2 percent, at $73.48 a barrel by 2:28 p.m. ET, after falling 80 cents on Thursday.

Both contracts hit 3½-year highs in May, but have since drifted lower as U.S. crude production has risen and as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and other allies look poised to increase output in their meeting in the Austrian capital on June 22-23.

OPEC may boost production as the oil market is very tight: Expert

"We're going into an OPEC meeting where everyone is talking about raising production — the only question is by how much, " said Bob Yawger, director, energy at Mizuho in New York.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday after talks with Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih in Moscow that both nations "in principle" supported a gradual increase in production after restricting output for 18 months.

"We in general support this ... but specifics we will discuss with the ministers in a week," Novak said, adding that one option would involve gradually raising output by 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), possibly starting from July 1.

Falih offered no specific guidance on what any deal in Vienna could look like, but said: "We will see where we go, but I think we'll come to an agreement that satisfies, most importantly, the market."

Many analysts expect a rise in output from the meeting.

"The switch has been turned on for a supply increase," Olivier Jakob at Swiss oil markets consultancy Petromatrix said.

Crude holds steady, waits for OPEC

Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader, said the shape of next week's OPEC deal was far from certain and noted that Russia seemed to want a bigger rise in production than some other producers:

"My guess is the increase will be something less than the 1 million bpd (barrels per day) that the U.S. is supposed to have asked the Saudis for," McKenna said.

Saudi Crown Prince told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday that Saudi Arabia wants to continue cooperation with Russia on global oil markets.

Meanwhile, oil prices found some support after attacks shut major Libyan oil ports on Thursday, slashing production by 240,000 bpd.

U.S. energy companies added one oil rig this week, the fourth consecutive week of increases, despite a 9 percent decline in crude prices over the past four weeks. The oil rig count in the week to June 15 rose to 863, the highest level since March 2015, General Electric's Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report on Friday.

— CNBC's Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.