By Kevin Baxter and Stephanie Yang
Oil prices pulled back on Tuesday, reversing earlier gains 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 down 86 cents, or 1.8%, at $47.38 a barrel. Prices reversed after trading at a fresh three-week high, hitting as high as $49.20 earlier in the session. Brent, the global benchmark, was down 53 cents, or 1.1% at $48.37 a barrel.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries discussed cutting oil production by 4.5% on Tuesday. However, delegates said members Iraq and Iran have yet to fully commit to deep cuts in production, sparking concerns about the cartel's ability to close a deal at the upcoming meeting.
"[They're] kicking the can down the road," said Stephen Schork, editor of energy trade publication the Schork Report. "It's the same old."
Prices have been heavily influenced by OPEC news in recent weeks, as investors have speculated whether a deal will be able to offset headwinds such as a strong U.S. dollar, rising production and a glut of storage.
Earlier on Tuesday, oil prices edged higher on 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.
A Nigerian delegate told The Wall Street Journal that sticking points remain, such as discrepancies between independent data on productionused by the group and members' own disclosures and Iran's plans to boost output, which have scuttled past efforts to reach a deal.
Still, many remain skeptical that the organization will be able to agree on a decision to reduce production.
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.
"I think we've priced in OPEC after yesterday's move," said Carl Larry, director of oil and gas at Frost Sullivan. "We're really going to be waiting on stats here."
Gasoline futures were recently down 0.4% at $1.3916 a gallon, and diesel futures were down 0.8% at $1.5122 a gallon.
Write to Kevin Baxter at Kevin.Baxter@wsj.com and Stephanie Yang at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 22, 2016 13:07 ET (18:07 GMT)
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