By Kevin Baxter
Oil prices fluctuated between gains and losses Tuesday as the market continued to be fueled by headlines regarding the forthcoming meeting of OPEC members due to take place Nov. 30.
Light, sweet crude for January delivery was recently up 23 cents, or 0.5%, at $48.47 a barrel, on track for its third straight session of gains. Prices had traded as low as $47.73 earlier in the session. Brent, the global benchmark, was up 55 cents, or 1.1% at $49.45 a barrel.
Helping support oil prices on Tuesday was positive sentiment from the pre-summit meeting for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna. News of a deal almost being reached spurred investor's hopes that the cartel could reach a consensus on cuts by as early as next Tuesday.
"We're starting to see a lot of optimism about this OPEC deal," said Carl Larry, director of oil and gas at Frost Sullivan. "There's just enough pressure to make them do something."
A Nigerian delegate told The Wall Street Journal that sticking points remain, such as discrepancies between independent data on production used by the group and members' own disclosures and Iran's plans to boost output, which have scuttled past efforts to reach a deal.
While many in the market are betting that there will be an agreement to cut production, others are less sure.
Dominick Chirichella from the New York-based Energy Management Institute believes that there is still only a 50% chance that OPEC will make any meaningful cuts to output. He said in a research note that despite all the "jawboning," no new information has entered the market since last week.
Commerzbank predicts that proposed cuts will come from Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies, on the condition that other members don't ramp up their output. It added that only Iraq was in any position to ramp up supply, making reaching an accord a realistic prospect. However, it also warned market players not to get too carried away.
"No groundbreaking agreement on production caps or cuts should be expected from the OPEC meeting," the German bank said in a note.
Investors are also awaiting storage data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, scheduled for release on Wednesday, to gauge whether recent demand will help draw down the high level of crude-oil stockpiles.
Gasoline futures were recently up 1.4% at $1.4165 a gallon, and diesel futures were up 1.3% at $1.5438 a gallon.
--Stephanie Yang contributed to this article.
Write to Kevin Baxter at Kevin.Baxter@wsj.com(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 22, 2016 10:37 ET (15:37 GMT)
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