Oil tumbled in a volatile session on Thursday after OPEC signaled it may agree to a smaller output cut than expected and as concern over the economic impact of trade tensions hit global stock markets.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is meeting in Vienna to decide its production policy in coordination with non-OPEC producers including Russia, Oman and Kazakhstan.
Expectations had been for a joint cut of between 1 and 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd), until Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said before the meeting that the “OPEC+” group would be happy with a cut of just 1 million bpd.
Brent crude futures was down $1.41 on the day to $60.15 a barrel at 1245 GMT, having hit a session low of $58.36, while U.S. futures were down $1.38 to $51.51 a barrel.
The two have lost 30 percent in value this quarter alone.
“Overall, this shows the weak momentum in the market right now and it has clearly not been helped by what has happened over night … with the sell-off in stocks and weakness in bond yields,” Saxo Bank senior manager Ole Hansen said.
“But (OPEC) know how to handle markets. They might be talking it down and then delivering a sucker-punch a bit later, that could also be the outcome.”
Led by Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s crude oil production has risen by 4.1 percent since mid-2018, to 33.31 million bpd.
“We assume key OPEC producers – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait – together with Russia and Oman, will push through a moderate reduction in output in place through 2019,” Wood Mackenzie vice president of macro oil Anne-Louise Hittle said.
“We assume a cut of around 1.0 million barrels per day in the first quarter of next year, using October 2018 production levels as a reference. Given the recent ramp-up in supply from these producers, this represents a year-on-year decline in crude output of just 0.2 million barrels per day for 2019,” she said.
European equities hit their lowest in two years and commodity-sensitive currencies such as the Russian rouble fell sharply, in part because of the slide in the oil price, but also with the arrest of a top executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei in Canada for extradition to the United States
The arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhouof, who is also the daughter of the firm’s founder, triggered renewed fireworks coming just as Washington and Beijing prepare for crucial trade negotiations.
Barclays said in its Global Outlook published on Thursday that “investors need to lower their expectations” and that “2019 should be a period of lower returns and higher volatility”.
Barclays said it expected “the global economy to slow over the next several quarters” although it added that “not one major economy is near recession.”