By Kevin Baxter and Stephanie Yang
Oil prices pulled back on 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 settled down 21 cents, or 0.4%, at $48.03 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, settled up 22 cents, or 0.4%, to $49.12 a barrel.
On Tuesday, investors were closely tracking news out of the pre-summit meeting for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna for clues on whether aproduction cut agreement could be reached by the end of the month. Concern over the cartel's ability to come to a deal weighed on prices throughout the day.
Oil has been heavily influenced by OPEC expectations 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.
At the meeting, OPEC discussed cutting oil production by 4.5%, and officials said the successfully came to a consensus on output action. Prices pared losses as the outlook for a deal became more upbeat.
"There were some positive comments at the end of the meeting, whereas earlier in the day there was some apprehension," said Tony Headrick, energy analyst at CHS Hedging. Now there is "more willingness to buy on OPEC optimism."
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.
A history of failing to come to a production agreement has made some analysts skeptical of comments from OPEC officials on Tuesday.
"[They're] kicking the can down the road," said Stephen Schork, editor of energy trade publication the Schork Report. "It's the same old."
Dominick Chirichella from the 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.
"Basically, nothing has changed from the meeting in September," Mr. Chirichella said. "I think there is still ground that needs to be worked out."
Investors are also awaiting storage data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, scheduled for release on Wednesday, to gauge whether recent demand has impacted the high level of crude-oil stockpiles. Analysts and traders surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect inventories to climb an average of 800,000 barrels in the week ended Nov. 18.
The American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said late Tuesday that its own data for the week showed a 1.3 million-barrel decrease in crude supplies, a 2.7 million-barrel increase in gasoline stocks and a 400,000-barrel decrease in distillate inventories, according to a market participant.
"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 settled up 1% at $1.4098 a gallon, and diesel futures settled up 0.1% at $1.5263 a gallon.[
Write to Kevin Baxter at Kevin.Baxter@wsj.com and Stephanie Yang at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 22, 2016 17:03 ET (22:03 GMT)
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