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Oil prices rise even as doubts remain on OPEC-led cut

NEW YORK - Oil prices turned positive on Wednesday despite investor doubts that OPEC will agree to a production cut large enough to make a significant dent in the global glut of crude. Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countr...

 

NEW YORK  - Oil prices turned positive on Wednesday despite investor doubts that OPEC will agree to a production cut large enough to make a significant dent in the global glut of crude.

Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will meet next week in Vienna to decide on the details of an agreement to cut output that the group has been trying to hammer out since September.

Oil prices trended lower earlier in the morning but turned positive after the Energy Information Administration reported that U.S. crude stocks unexpectedly fell by 1.3 million barrels last week.

In the U.S. market, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were up 19 cents at $48.22 a barrel at 10:44 a.m. EDT (1544 GMT) after rising to $48.43 earlier on Wednesday.

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Brent crude futures were up 16 cents at $49.28 a barrel.

Calendar spreads, the difference in price between one month and the next in the futures market, showed little signs that traders are pricing in a big change in market fundamentals.

The front to second-month WTI calendar spread <CLc1-CLc2> traded at the widest in seven months on Tuesday, although it narrowed slightly on Wednesday. The one to six-month spread <CLc1-CLc6> traded at one of the widest levels since August.

The WTI cash roll, which allows physical traders to roll long positions forward, traded down to negative $1.80 a barrel on Tuesday, the weakest since March.

All are indications of expectations that there will be little change in oversupply in the market in the near term.

"Looking at the forward curve, the spread has gotten substantially weaker on the WTI side ... so that's bearish and pressures the front of the curve," said Tariq Zahir, an analyst at Tyche Capital Advisors in New York.

"There's going to be some cut, but is Saudi Arabia really going to take the lion's share of the cut?"

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