I suspect that today’s “rally” in oil was simple a result of the commodity falling too far, too fast and opening the way for some traders to make a buck or two on the upside. U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell to $42.24 a barrel as of 11:45 a.m. New York time today before moving back up to to close at $43.68 for a gain of 0.83% on the day. The international Brent benchmark finished the day down 0.72%.
It’s not like bad news from the sector took a vacation today–although maybe the news was less heavily negative today than Friday.
Friday OPEC reported that October crude output from its members increased by 240,000 barrels a day from September. At the same time OPEC lowered its forecast for oil demand in 2017 by 0.01 million barrels a day.
Today’s bad news came in reports from Iran that the country had raised production at three of its fields faster than expected. That news was “balanced” to a degree by comments from Saudi Arabia reiterating OPEC’s need to cut production at its November 30 meeting. Iran, along with Iraq,Libya, and Nigeria the source of most of the increase in supply reported yesterday for October, have been arguing that they need to be exempt from any OPEC production reductions.
One piece of election news that hasn’t yet been factored into oil market thinking–because it is so far off, I expect–is the possibility that a new Trump administration would abrogate the nuclear deal with Iran as promised by Candidate Trump. That would lead to the resumption of at least some of the sanctions against Iran that resulted in a steep drop in that country’s oil production and exports. Oil industry analysts peg the likely reduction from renewed sanctions at about 1 million barrels a day. That’s about enough to bring OPEC production down to suggested targets. Any renewed sanctions would likely be weaker in the face of opposition, for different reasons, from Russia, China, and the European Union. It’s likely that abrogating the treaty and reimposing sanctions would take months after Trump’s January inauguration.