US crude rebounds 1%, settling at $56.25 after record 12-day losing streak

Key Points
  • Oil rose on Wednesday on the growing prospect of OPEC and allied producers cutting output at a meeting next month to prop up the market.
  • OPEC and its partners have discussed a proposal to cut output by up to 1.4 million barrels per day.
  • Crude oil has lost over a quarter of its value since early October in what has become one of the biggest declines since a price collapse in 2014.
Kilduff: Skeptical about OPEC proposal to cut output

Oil prices rose on Wednesday, ending the longest ever losing streak for U.S. crude, on the growing prospect of OPEC and allied producers cutting output at a meeting next month.

Prices recovered, with Brent inching back above $67 after Reuters reported that OPEC and its partners are discussing a proposal to cut output by up to 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd), a larger figure than officials had mentioned previously.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures ended Wednesday's session up 56 cents, or 1 percent, at $56.25 per barrel. WTI fell 7 percent to a one-year low on Tuesday.

International benchmark Brent crude oil futures were up 51 cents at $65.08 per barrel by 2:29 p.m ET. Brent plunged 6 percent to settle at an eight-month low in the previous session.

The price of Brent has fallen by more than 20 percent since early October on concern about excess supply and slowing demand, one of the biggest declines since a price collapse in 2014. U.S. crude had declined for a record 12 consecutive sessions to the lowest since November 2017.

Worst in crude oil is over, says MBF Clearing Corporation CEO

The selling leading up to Wednesday was further exacerbated as traders unwound long oil - short natural gas trade, market participants said. As oil crashed from the high touched in October, natural gas futures soared as much as 56 percent during that time to a 4½ year high.

"In no short period of time this trade has imploded," MBF Clearing founder and CEO Mark Fisher told CNBC on Wednesday.

Moreover, financial firms have been hedging the risk incurred by selling put options to oil producers, generating added downward pressure as prices fall toward option strikes, Goldman Sachs said in a note.

"Basically once we got to $55 a barrel, which is where the cost of shale [oil] is, we got to where all the puts were struck for the producer hedging programs," Goldman's Jeff Currie told CNBC on Wednesday. "Once you went in there, then swap dealers needed to hedge their position and that's why we sold off."

Goldman’s commodities chief on global oil markets

Oil markets are being pressured from two sides: a surge in supply from OPEC, Russia, the Unites States and other producers; and increasing concerns about a global economic slowdown.

In its monthly report, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) said the implied stock build for the first half of 2019 is 2 million bpd.

The IEA left its forecast for global demand growth for 2018 and 2019 unchanged from last month at 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) and 1.4 million bpd, respectively, but cut its forecast for non-OECD demand growth, the engine of expansion in world oil consumption.

"This market is attempting to find a price bottom following an unprecedented 12 consecutive days of decline," Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note.

"Although the supply surplus is still relatively modest, the market is focusing on the dynamic of expansion in the overhang that will need to show signs of reversal before a price bottom can be established."

Saudi Arabia will be the swing oil supplier in OPEC and the world, says expert

U.S. crude oil output from its seven major shale basins is expected to hit a record 7.94 million barrels per day (bpd) in December, the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday.

That surge in onshore output has helped overall U.S. crude production hit a record 11.6 million bpd, making the United States the world's biggest oil producer ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Most analysts expect U.S. output to climb above 12 million bpd in the first half of 2019.

The rise in U.S. production is contributing to higher stockpiles. Official storage data is due on Thursday from the EIA, with analysts expecting a 3 million barrel rise in crude inventories.

— CNBC's Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.