Oil Prices Dip Following OPEC-Russia Boost
Crude oil was back on the defensive Monday, as the OPEC-induced rally showed signs of fizzling amid apparent geopolitical and economic headwinds. In short: traders are still doubting whether the planned output cut announced on Friday will be enough to drain the supply glut in the face of waning economic growth and lower demand projections.
Rally Falls Short
The U.S. and international benchmarks declined at the beginning of the week, partially offsetting Friday’s short rally. The U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmark swung from an intraday high of $52.81 a barrel all the way back down below $52. At the time of writing, WTI for January settlement was worth $51.91 a barrel, down 70 cents, or 1.3%. Brent crude for February delivery slipped 55 cents, or 0.9%, to $61.12 a barrel.
Natural gas prices were also down on Monday. The benchmark Nymex futures contract dipped 3 cents, or 0.6%, to $4.46 MMBtu.
A stronger U.S. dollar was a primary source of headwinds for commodity prices on Monday. The dollar index (DXY), which values the greenback against a basket of six currencies, rose 0.3% to 96.76.
On Friday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced it had reached a deal with Russia to reduce global crude output by a combined 1.2 million barrels per day. The output cut was higher than expected and signaled a renewed readiness to re-balance the market following a two-month collapse in prices. Crude officially entered bear-market territory last month, having lost roughly one-third of its value since the October high.
According to analysts, the decision by OPEC, Russia and their allies should stem the price collapse for the time being and support a recovery towards $70 a barrel. However, it’s not entirely clear whether the strategy is sustainable given the resurgence of U.S. shale and America’s push for energy independence under President Trump.
The U.S. leader has blasted OPEC for its production policies and has called on the cartel not to support any initiative that would raise prices drastically. The Trump administration is relying on competitive crude prices to feed the nation’s economic recovery, which is showing signs of slowing.
At the same time, there are considerable doubts about how the OPEC+ coalition will implement its production cuts. Analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley have expressed concern about whether producers can stay on the same page given how difficult compliance has been in the past.
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