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Futures Movers: Oil rallies back from the lowest prices since October, but suffers a second-straight weekly loss

Oil rallied on Friday, rebounding a day after a drop to the lowest price since October, but still suffered a loss for a the week, their second in a row.

Prices fell on Thursday after OPEC+, which is comprised of members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies, said it would raise the monthly overall production by 400,000 barrels a day in December, but the group also pushed back against pressure from the Biden administration to pump more oil.

Read: U.S. oil producers pose ’emerging threat’ after OPEC+ defies calls to speed production increases

The market decided to reduce risk on Thursday, “at a time that pressure mounts for more OPEC+ output, while Saudi Arabia is reported to soon exceed the 10 million [barrels per day] threshold of oil production,” said Bjørnar Tonhaugen, head of oil markets at Rystad Energy, in a daily market note. Thursday’s price drop was “sharp and maybe a bit exaggerated too,” he said.

OPEC+ “offered no surprises and stuck to its conservative policy, closing the ears to U.S. calls for extra production,” said Tonhaugen. A correction of Thursday’s price fall, and a price rise was “something to be expected” Friday.

West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery 
CLZ21,
+3.45%

CL00,
+3.45%

 climbed $2.46, or 3.1%, to settle at $81.27 a barrel. Thursday’s action saw crude tumble 2.5% to settle at $78.81 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, pushing front-month contract prices to the lowest finish since Oct. 7, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

For the week, WTI prices lost nearly 2.8%, for a second weekly loss in a row, following a nine-week streak of gains — the longest for front-month contracts based on records going back to April 1983, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

January Brent crude 
BRN00,
+0.05%

BRNF22,
+0.05%
,
 the global benchmark, rose $2.20, or 2.7%, to $82.74 a barrel, with prices down 1.2% this week. Brent tumbled 1.8% on Thursday, its lowest finish since Oct. 1.

“OPEC+ carefully tries to protect the market balance and amid the downside risks to demand the alliance is concerned —no wonder they opt to tread carefully,” said Tonhaugen.

“However, it will not be a surprise if OPEC+ at its next December meeting decides to reengineer its current [output cut] tapering plan to allow for higher target productions for the countries with spare capacity, such as Saudi Arabia, UAE and Russia, to compensate for expected underperformance” from some regions such as West Africa, he said.

Biden has blamed Russia and OPEC for surging U.S. gasoline prices, calling on the cartel and its allies to pump more oil.

“The now open disagreement between OPEC and the U.S. administration, the threat of an SPR [Strategic Petroleum Reserve] release and the potential resumption in negotiations with Iran will…increase the volatility in oil prices in coming weeks, especially as trading liquidity falls into year-end,” said a team of analysts at Goldman Sachs led by Damien Courvalin, in a note dated Nov. 4.

But they said even if the U.S. tapped its emergency oil supplies, such a move would be of “modest and temporary help and could in fact backfire given the structural nature of the oil market deficits starting in 2023.”

Data from Baker Hughes
BKR,
-0.60%

Friday showed the number of active U.S. oil-drilling rigs climbed by six to 450 this week– the biggest increase since the week ended Oct. 15 — implying a future uptick in production.

The Goldman analysts told oil bulls to hold their ground, as the the oil market is undersupplied and facing more volatility, at the end of a week that’s set to deliver the commodity’s worst losses since August.

“Net, our bullish view remains unchanged: the oil deficit remains unresolved, the current strength in oil demand remains a near-term tailwind and the increasingly structural nature of the deficits will require much higher long-dated oil prices,” the analysts said.

Couravlin said the analysts’ favored bullish oil trade now is a long December 2022 contract, which offers “the best return vs. volatility trade off as perceived near-term bearish risks (COVID, OPEC, Iran, U.S. SPR) would only further delay the required ramp-up in investment and exacerbate the structural deficits that we forecast starting in 2023.” The bank has a $90-a-barrel end-2021 forecast for Brent crude.

Prices for petroleum products Friday finished higher, with December gasoline 
RBZ21,
+1.10%

up 1.2% to $2.321 a gallon, but down 5.9% for the week. December heating oil 
HOZ21,
+1.86%

rose 2% to $2.456 a gallon, ending about 0.9% lower for the week.

December natural-gas futures
NGZ21,
-1.61%

fell 3.5% to $5.516 per million British thermal units, with still prices moving up by 1.7% for the week.

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