Oil gains ahead of OPEC+ meeting; Russian oil price cap looms

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SINGAPORE: Oil prices climbed on Friday on bets that OPEC+ will discuss output cuts at a meeting on Sept. 5, though fears of China's COVID-19 curbs and weak global growth continued to limit gains and a potential cap on the price of Russian exports loomed.

Brent crude futures rose $1.23, or 1.3%, to $93.59 a barrel at 0630 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures advanced $1.25, or 1.4%, to $87.86 a barrel.

Both benchmark contracts slid 3% in the previous session to two-week lows. Brent was headed for a weekly drop of nearly 7%, and WTI was on track to fall about 5% for the week.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC and allies, together called OPEC+, are due to meet on Sept. 5 against a backdrop of sliding prices and falling demand, even as top producer Saudi Arabia says supply remains tight.

"We expect the group to leave output targets unchanged. Their own numbers show a tighter-than-expected market and they would probably also want some more clarity on Iranian supply before making any big changes to output policy," said Warren Patterson, head of commodity research at ING.

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OPEC+ this week slashed its demand outlook, now forecasting demand to lag supply by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2022, but it expects a market deficit of 300,000 bpd in its base case for 2023.

The market is also keeping a lookout for a potential price cap on Russian oil exports.

G7 finance ministers are expected to firm up plans on Friday to impose a price cap on Russian oil aimed at slashing revenue for Moscow's war in Ukraine, but keeping crude flowing to avoid price spikes. Russia calls its actions in Ukraine "a special operation".

Meanwhile, investors remain worried about the impact of the latest COVID-19 curbs in China. The city of Chengdu on Thursday ordered a lockdown that has hit manufacturers like Volvo.

"Oil prices have been facing a confluence of headwinds lately, with recent virus lockdowns in China coming after its lacklustre PMI readings pointing to a lower-for-longer growth picture and puts demand outlook at risk," said Yeap Jun Rong, market strategist at IG.

Data showed Chinese factory activity in August contracted for the first time in three months amid weakening demand, while power shortages and COVID-19 outbreaks disrupted production. - Reuters


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