Crude Just had its Worst Month in a Decade, and its Next Move Depends on Saudi Arabia and Trump

West Texas Intermediate, or U.S. crude, lost 21 percent in November, tumbling to its lowest level in a year and logging its worst performance since October 2008.

After sinking below $50, the days ahead could bring some relief, according to Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

This week, the cartel of oil producing nations known as OPEC will make a decision on future levels of production that may determine where prices head in the near term.

“What we really need to get on the path to $60 is we need to see a substantial cut coming out of OPEC at the Thursday meeting,” Croft told CNBC’s “Futures Now” on Thursday. “We anticipate that OPEC will pull a significant quantity of barrels, at a minimum a million barrels.”

OPEC, which includes top producer Saudi Arabia, is set to meet in Vienna on Thursday. Along with non-OPEC member Russia, oil producing countries are expected to agree to a supply cut to counteract tumbling oil prices.

Read More : Russia is Expected to Announce Oil Supply Cuts at its Upcoming Meeting on Dec. 6.

“The one cloud over this is really Saudi Arabia and their relationship with President Trump,” added Croft. “President Trump has made the explicit ask to Saudi Arabia to keep the taps open, so at the eleventh hour that they potentially try to force the Saudi crown prince to keep the barrels on the market,” she said. “I think that’s the big concern.”

‘A big tax cut’

Last month, Trump tweeted his thanks to Saudi Arabia for lower oil prices, calling crude’s drop a “big tax cut for America.” The president was criticized for his siding with Saudi Arabia following the kingdom’s suspected involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Croft said that Saudi Arabia will probably act in their “economic self-interest” and agree to a production cut at the OPEC meeting — though they will have to walk a tightrope to avoid offending Trump. The International Monetary Fund estimates Saudi’s breakeven point at $88 a barrel for Brent oil, which is almost half of current levels.

If OPEC’s smaller producers join Saudi in agreeing to a production cut, crude oil could surge.

Some oil producers have been hesitant to cut production and potentially cede their market share. The U.S. continues to produce at a record pace, with output recently setting an all-time high above 11 million barrels per day.

“We heard that Russia will probably go along and then there are these countries that have exemptions – Libya, Nigeria, will they participate in a cut?” she asked. “If they do something higher around 1.5 million, I think that’s a catalyst on Friday to start moving higher,” explained Croft.

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Neal Bhai has been involved in the Bullion and Metals markets since 1998 – he has experience in many areas of the market from researching to trading and has worked in Delhi, India. Mobile No. - 9899900589 and 9582247600

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