WTI trades close to $78.00 in thin liquidity amid US market closures, next week’s OPEC+ meetings eyed

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  • Oil markets are subdued on Thursday amid thin liquidity conditions. 
  • WTI has been trading close to the $78.00 level. 

Oil markets are unsurprisingly subdued on Thursday amid thin liquidity conditions due to US market closures for Thanksgiving. Front-month WTI futures have spent most of what has thus far been a very quiet session ranging in the low-$78.00s/just under $78.00 area, with prices remaining well within recent ranges. Futures trade will halt at 1800GMT and then restart at 2300GMT. Ahead of the market closure, conditions are likely to remain subdued, especially once any remaining European market participants depart after European market closures from 1630GMT.

In terms of fresh fundamentals, the most notable development on Thursday was reports that the US continues to exert pressure on Russia to increase output. The news had little effect on crude oil markets at the time but might be a sign that the Biden administration remains frustrated with its inability to push prices lower. That might mean further reserve releases are on the cards. The main focus for markets remains the response by OPEC+ officials to this week’s oil reserve release announcement from the US and other major consumers.

A Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday suggested that Russia and Saudi Arabia, the two OPEC+ nations who produce the most oil each day, were mulling halting the cartel’s preplanned output hikes in December. But Reuters, citing three sources, subsequently reported that OPEC+ is not discussing slowing output hikes. The organisation meets next week.

Elsewhere, oil markets have broadly ignored pandemic updates. In terms of the latest with regards to the European Covid-19 outbreak and government response; health experts in the Netherlands have reportedly advised that the government order a closure of restaurants and non-essential stores. Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, has again reiterated her call for tighter restrictions, saying that every day counts to slow the spread. Her calls come after Italy on Wednesday approved new curbs on unvaccinated individuals.