Oil ended lower after a day of fluctuations as OPEC and allied crude producers ended the first phase of formal talks without agreeing on the magnitude of new supply limits.
Futures in New York settled lower for the first time in three sessions on Wednesday.
Saudi Arabia, Russia and other members of the OPEC+ group recommended a production cut, but failed to agree on how big the reduction should be. With negotiations scheduled to resume on Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump continued to pan output caps via Twitter.
“The big question is, in the case of an agreement, what volume will be announced to the market,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity-markets strategy at BNP Paribas. “I think we will see an agreement as it is in the mutual benefit of all producers belonging to OPEC+.”
The group secured Russia’s pledge to join in six months of output curbs starting in January, Oman’s Oil Minister Mohammed Al Rumhy told reporters in Vienna as he left the committee meeting. Some countries believe an overall reduction of less than 1 million barrels a day would be enough to balance the market, according to a delegate.
Adhering to the cuts could also be tough in the face of surging U.S. production.
“It’s not so much about the level, it’s about actually sticking to the cuts and making sure that everybody sticks to it,” Frances Hudson, a global strategist in Edinburgh at Aberdeen Standard Investments, said by telephone. “That’s what’s gone wrong for OPEC in the past.”
West Texas Intermediate for January delivery fell 36 cents to $52.89 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after swinging more than 2 percent in each direction.
Brent for February settlement fell 52 cents to $61.56 on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange. The global benchmark crude was at an $8.44 premium to WTI for the same month.
In the U.S., the American Petroleum Institute was said to report nationwide crude stockpiles increased 5.36 million barrels last week, contrasting with a Bloomberg survey that forecast a 2 million-barrel decrease. The government’s tally is scheduled to be released on Thursday. The API was also said to report inventories for gasoline and diesel rose last week.
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