Oil Futures Choppy in Morning Trade

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- New York Mercantile Exchange oil futures and Brent crude on the Intercontinental Exchange edged higher in early trade Thursday after Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said it would consider deeper production cuts at its December meeting, while markets await today's commencement of the U.S.-China trade summit in Washington, D.C.

Around 8:15 a.m. ET, NYMEX November West Texas Intermediate futures were up $0.34 near $52.93 per barrel (bbl), and the ICE December Brent contract traded $0.24 higher at $58.56 bbl. NYMEX November ULSD futures gained 0.86 cents near $1.9279 gallon and the November RBOB contract added 0.93 cents near $1.5964 gallon.

Oil futures move higher follows comments by OPEC's Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo that the soon to be 13-member cartel is ready to make "strong positive decisions" at its next policy meeting in December. During an industry summit in London, the OPEC official clarified that all options are on the table before the group, including deeper production cuts.

OPEC reported its crude production plunged 1.318 million barrels per day (bpd) in September to 28.491 million bpd, down 4.4% from the month earlier, according to its Monthly Oil Market Report released Thursday.

Saudi Arabia drove the steep decline, with the kingdom's output dropping 1.280 million bpd to 8.564 million bpd last month, 1.747 million bpd or 17% below their allotted quota under an OPEC+ production agreement. The Saudis reported production at 9.129 million bpd, with output down sharply following the Sept. 14 attack on critical oil processing units.

Venezuelan crude production slid 82,000 bpd to 644,000 bpd in September, with output by Iran falling 34,000 bpd to 2.159 million bpd. Both countries are under U.S. sanctions, limiting their ability to export oil.

Oil futures were mostly unchanged this week, as the market continues to look for clues on the progress in U.S.-China trade talks set to resume today in Washington, D.C. This week's headlines pushed the oil complex in both directions, while the dominant narrative continues to be China's refusal to talk about core trade issues.

The trade war between the world's top economies has dragged on for over a year, inflicting economic damage on both countries. Without significant progress, the United States is set to hike the tariff rate on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods to 30% from 25% on Tuesday.

Global stocks were mixed Thursday morning, with European markets gripped with bearish sentiment over the economic outlook for the 28-nation bloc, while Asian shares ended the session with modest gains.

U.S. equity futures were near flat early Thursday after paring losses from an overnight slump. The U.S. dollar index was down 0.37% at 98.450.

Liubov Georges can be reached at liubov.georges@dtn.com

(BAS)