Oil trading was static early on Friday as uncertainty ahead of a planned OPEC-led crude production cut and thin liquidity after the US Thanksgiving holiday kept traders from taking big new positions. International Brent crude oil futures were trading at $48.97 at 0102 GMT, down 3 cents from their last close. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $47.97 per barrel, up 1 cent from their last settlement.
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Traders said market activity was low due to the US holiday, while there was a reluctance to take on big price directional bets because of uncertainty about the planned oil output cut, led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
OPEC is due to meet on Nov. 30 to coordinate a cut, potentially together with non-OPEC member Russia, but there is also disagreement within the producer cartel as to which member states should cut and by how much.
“Crude oil prices treaded water as OPEC and non-OPEC members spent more time in preliminary meetings ahead of the Vienna gathering … Investors look like they are sitting on the sidelines as they await the OPEC meeting in Vienna next week,” ANZ bank said on Friday.
Most analysts believe that some form of a production cut will be agreed, though it is uncertain whether this will be enough to prop up a market that has been dogged by a fuel supply overhang for over two years.
Beyond OPEC, traders said the strong US-dollar, which this month has hit levels last seen in 2003 against a basket of other leading currencies, was influencing oil prices.
A strong dollar, in which oil is traded, makes fuel purchases more expensive for countries using other currencies at home, potentially crimping demand.