Oil Futures Mixed Ahead of API Data

NEW YORK (DTN) -- New York Mercantile Exchange oil futures ended mixed Tuesday with West Texas Intermediate crude oil contract pulling back ahead of U.S. weekly oil supply reports and after a report said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will wait until its Nov. 30 summit to debate a proposal to cut production.

The new report concerning OPEC waiting to debate their key policy issue came against the backdrop of new details emerging from the ongoing informal talks among OPEC technocrats in the lead up to the ministerial meeting in Vienna.

While there are still expectations a final agreement with be reached eventually, reports said the proposals under consideration now signal OPEC conceding to requests by Iran and Iraq to be flexible in terms of their production. Both countries had asked for exemptions from the cut or to be allocated higher production quotas.

The proposals under discussion also call for an output cut of between 4.0% and 4.5% although it remains unclear on the baseline. The cartel had pledged back in September to limit production to a range of 32.5 million to 33 million barrels per day (bpd), but they produced 33.64 million bpd in October, OPEC said earlier this month, basing its data on secondary sources.

Also, the new proposals call for the deal to last six months only instead of a year as had previously been agreed.

The futures complex rallied earlier in premarket to three-week highs in anticipation OPEC would finalize the deal by Nov. 30 to cut production and would be joined by non-OPEC Russia.

Attention is also turn to whether the proposed cuts will be sufficient to rebalance the market and whether compliance will be a problem as it has in the past.

Traders are also awaiting weekly oil inventory data from the Energy Information Administration, which is set for release on Wednesday. The American Petroleum Institute will issue its data at 4:30 PM ET today.

A survey this morning showed the market expects the reports to show a crude stock draw of only 200,000 barrels (bbl), a gasoline stock build of 200,000 bbl and a distillate stock draw of 1.2 million bpd.

At settlement, the NYMEX January West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures contract eased 21 cents to $48.03 bbl, reversing off a $49.20 three-week spot high. The January Brent crude contract on the ICE futures complex rose 22 cents to $49.12 bbl, off $49.96 three-week spot high.

In products trade, the NYMEX December ULSD futures contract edged up 0.18 cent to $1.5263 gallon, off 1.5569 cents three-week spot high. The December RBOB futures contract settled 1.33 cents higher at $1.4098 gallon, near a $1.4304 near three-week high.

George Orwel can be reached at george.orwel@dtn.com