Oil prices drifted between gains and losses Tuesday before breaking sharply higher, as investors awaited more details about a proposed effort between OPEC and Russia to curb production.
December Brent crude futures rose 59 cents, or 1.2% to $52.11 a barrel at 5:22 pm ET. The global benchmark is coming off a two-session slide, as prices continued to retreat from last week’s 15-month high.
The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmark for US crude futures rose 83 cents, or 1.7%, to $50.77 a barrel, reversing an earlier drop of 0.6%.
Crude prices struggled for momentum earlier in the day as investors speculated about a vague commitment from Russia to join in on OPEC’s effort to freeze production. Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin told an energy congress in Istanbul his country was ready to freeze or even reduce output. However, a top executive at Russia’s largest state-run oil company later told media that he had no intention to cooperate with OPEC around a production freeze.
OPEC secretary general Mohammed Barkindo on Tuesday tried to extinguish fears that Russia would derail the producer group’s plan to rebalance the market.
Meanwhile, Iran’s prime minister on Monday said his country needed to regain its share of the global energy markets following six years of sanctions. The Iranian official’s comments cast further doubt about the ability of major producers to cooperate on a plan to boost prices.
OPEC will hold its next official meeting on November 30 in Vienna, where it will provide more details about its plan to freeze production.
Oil prices turned sharply higher after the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported that crude inventories declined 3.8 million barrels in the latest week. Crude stocks increased 2.7 million barrels the week before.
On Wall Street, US energy stocks finished slightly higher but under-performed the broader market. The S&P 500’s energy index closed 0.4% higher.