Iran sees market rebalancing in fourth quarter this year
An earlier version said the Energy Department will release its data later Wednesday. That data are postponed to Thursday because of the Memorial Day holiday.
Oil futures traded mostly higher on Wednesday, ahead of the latest weekly updates on U.S. petroleum supplies, with traders weighing the likelihood that major producers will reach a deal to curb output later this month.
October West Texas Intermediate crude CLV6, +1.49% tacked on 8 cents, or 0.2%, to $44.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. November Brent crude on London’s ICE Futures exchange LCOX6, +1.54% rose 3 cents, or less th an 0.1%, to $47.30 a barrel.
Prices started cruising toward $50 a barrel earlier this week, following the announcement that Saudi Arabia and Russia had agreed to cooperate to stabilize the oil market. But without a specific plan to cap output, futures prices have struggled for direction amid skepticism over whether a formal deal would be forthcoming.
Later this month, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are set to discuss ways to stabilize the oil market. Major oil producers have mentioned the possibility of a coordinated output agreement. Several members of OPEC, however, including Iran, Nigeria and Libya, are looking to increase output from current levels and will likely be unwilling to freeze production.
“Broadly speaking, there continues to be no firm indication that OPEC could convince all members to freeze production at current output levels,” said Robbie Fraser, commodity analyst at Schneider Electric. “Expect any emerging details surrounding OPEC coordination to continue to be a short-term price driver until their informal meeting later this month.”
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The National Iranian Oil Company on Wednesday said the country will increase output gradually in line with customer needs and export 2.2 million barrels a day in September, according to Dow Jones Newswires. It also said it expects the oil market to rebalance in the fourth quarter 2016 or in early 2017.
Separately, the American Petroleum Institute was set to report its weekly update on domestic oil stockpiles Wednesday afternoon, while the Energy Information Administration will release its own data Thursday morning. The reports were postponed by a day because of Monday’s holiday.
S&P Global Platts said it expects oil inventories rose 425,000 barrels last week, as U.S. refinery utilization declined amid disruptions from Hurricane Hermine in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Crude stocks remain ample—and have risen five of the last six reporting periods—under the weight of strong imports,” according to Platts.
On Nymex, gasoline blendstock for October RBV6, +2.70% rose 1.2 cents, or 0.9%, to $1.329 a gallon and October heating oil HOV6, +1.71% traded nearly flat at $1.409 a gallon. October natural gas NGV16, -1.80% fell 2.2 cents, or 0.9%, to $2.692 per million British thermal units.
—Sara Sjolin and Myra Saefong contributed to this article