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August 16, 2016

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Oil spurts on hopes of OPEC deal to freeze output

OIL rose further yesterday on hopes that OPEC producers would agree to freeze output next month and ease the global supply glut.

At 1130 GMT, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September delivery added 24 cents to US$44.73 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for October rose 25 cents to US$47.22 per barrel.

Saudi Arabian oil minister Khalid al-Falih hinted last week that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries could discuss action to stabilize markets at a September gathering.

It helped prices rebound since tumbling into a bear market earlier this month.

Any agreement to curb production would help rebalance the crude oil market, where output has been running ahead of demand. Both oil contracts rose more than 6 percent last week following the Saudi minister’s remarks.

“Will there or won’t there be a credible meeting and should anything be expected of it? The one word answers are ‘maybe’ and ‘no’, but OPEC have absolutely nothing to lose from talking about having an informal discussion on production restraint,” said PVM analyst David Hufton.

“The meeting is unlikely to yield anything because OPEC are caught in a squeeze. On the supply side it is their own increase in production that is prolonging the price depression — but if they freeze or restrain production to lift prices they will stimulate competing non-OPEC supply and lose market share.”

Some analysts have cautioned against putting too much hope on an output freeze, because previous talks earlier this year have resulted in disagreement.

“An agreement is still improbable,” research house Capital Economics said in a market commentary.


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