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Dubai futures: Sour crude complex rangebound on lack of fresh market cues

Singapore — Benchmark Dubai crude futures traded largely in a well-worn range Thursday morning in Asia, in the absence of clear direction and fresh trading cues.

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At 10 am in Singapore (0200 GMT), the December Brent/Dubai Exchange of Futures for Swaps spread, or EFS, widened to $2.90/b, after Platts assessed the spread at $2.81/b at the 4:30 pm Singapore time (0830 GMT) Asian close on Wednesday.

The Middle East sour crude complex, comprising intermonth spreads for benchmark Dubai crude futures, as well as Dubai's discount to ICE Brent futures, has traded in a steady range since the beginning of October.

The December Brent/Dubai EFS has remained between $2.81/b and $2.91/b since October 4, while the Month 1/Month 3 (November/January) spreads to-date have been mostly assessed within a $2.50/b-$2.60/b range, Platts data showed.

At 10 am Thursday morning, the November/December spread was pegged at $1.03/b, up from 97 cents/b assessed on Wednesday. The December/January spread was similarly pegged at 83 cents/b, up from Wednesday's 77 cents/b assessment.

This notionally pegs the Month 1/Month 3 structure at $2.57/b Thursday morning. The structure had been assessed at $2.51/b Wednesday evening, when the EFS stood at $2.81/b.

Dubai intermonth spreads typically rise in line with a widening EFS to adjust for a relatively cheaper sour crude market structure compared with Brent.

Meanwhile, spot activity for Middle East sour crude barrels loading over December is expected to pick up later Thursday, market participants said. Preliminary market talk Wednesday evening indicated that an unnamed buyer could have purchased the month's first spot Murban crude cargo at a premium of around 30 cents/b to its OSP -- details of this initial deal were still unclear Thursday morning.

--Eesha Muneeb, eesha.muneeb@spglobal.com

--Edited by Norazlina Juma'at, norazlina.jumaat@spglobal.com