Crude oil has been under the microscope for the latter half of 2014, as prices have all but cratered. Starting in late June, crude prices dropped by more than 25% as bearish momentum took over. With oil prices now sitting around $75/barrel many are looking to OPEC to install a solution to keep prices from dipping even further. All eyes will be on the organization as they meet on Thursday (11/27) to discuss possible solutions [for more commodity news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
OPEC Takes the Spotlight
While the U.S. will see markets closed in observance of Thanksgiving on Thursday, OPEC will be gathering in Vienna and possibly discussing a supply cut. The cut in supply would help rise prices for crude and put some ease on a number of companies and countries that have been hurt by the drop. A news agency in Iran reported that it will consult separately with Saudi Arabia prior to the Vienna meeting and may cut its output by as much as one million barrels per day. The report has yet to be confirmed, but it would be a major move to buoy oil prices.
About half of the analysts who answered a Bloomberg survey feel that OPEC will cut production to help raise prices. As the supplier of approximately 40% of the world’s oil, that would certainly light a fire under crude. The other half of analysts do not see OPEC deviating from its production target of 30 million barrels a day. That target was set in 2011 when crude prices were much higher and demand was in line with supply; this meeting will be of particular note as it is the first time in a few years that the commodity has endured such a pronounced slide. Also of note is the fact that the market is oversupplied by about two million barrels per day.
There are those who feel that even if OPEC were to make a cut, it would not have a marked impact on the price of the fossil fuel. There is speculation that even if OPEC makes a cut, it will need to get other countries on board, as non-OPEC countries can simply increase their production (particularly Russia) and the commodity could continue to fall [see also 25 Ways To Invest In Crude Oil].
News of an OPEC cut will likely send crude trading higher off of the news alone, but its outlook beyond that will still depend on what happens with the production of non-OPEC countries. Crude’s long-term future is about as hazy as it has ever been. For starters, the U.S. is nearing energy self-reliance and is no longer importing the commodity, and is exporting it instead. Demand for crude is also predicted to crawl in the coming years, as the global economy is still relatively weak.
Making a play on crude based on Thursday’s meeting should be thought of only as a short-term speculative investment, as there are so many factors that will weigh on its price in the coming months. Traders will want to keep their eyes and ears peeled for how Thursday’s meeting plays out and how OPEC decides to move forward.