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Crude oil futures rise on US-China trade talks, OPEC comments

Singapore — Crude oil futures were higher during mid-morning trade in Asia Friday on optimism ahead of US-China trade talks later in the day and reports that OPEC and its allies have not ruled out implementing further production cuts at their next meeting in December.

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At 10:37 am in Singapore (0237 GMT), ICE Brent December futures were up 20 cents/b (0.34%) from Thursday's settle at $59.30/b, while the NYMEX November light sweet crude futures contract was 16 cents/b (0.30%) higher at $53.71/b.

Optimism was raised on the US-China talks after US President Donald Trump said that discussions on Thursday went "very well."

"Perhaps a sign of progress as seen from past trade talks in Washington, the US President will also be convening with top negotiators on Friday, fueling positive sentiment for a constructive conclusion," said IG market strategist Jingyi Pan.

OPEC's Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo said Thursday that "all options are open" for the group at their next meeting in Vienna over December 5-6. Any decision made at the meeting would likely cover the entirety of 2020, Barkindo said.

"Going towards December, when we reconvene, we [the OPEC/non-OPEC coalition] will take appropriate strong positive decisions that will set us on the path of heightened sustainability," Barkindo said at a press briefing on the sidelines of an industry forum in London.

"Our commitment as a group of 24 countries to ensure we do not relapse into the last cycle is sacrosanct," he added.

The current OPEC/non-OPEC supply accord commits the 24-country coalition to 1.2 million b/d in production cuts through March.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia said its crude output fell just 660,000 b/d to average 9.13 million b/d in September, even as independent secondary sources, including S&P Global Platts, estimated bigger drops in the kingdom's production to an average of 8.56 million b/d in the month.

Both figures were released Thursday in OPEC's closely watched monthly oil market report and highlight the skepticism many analysts and barrel counters hold over Saudi Arabia's recovery after the September 14 missile strikes at its Abqaiq crude processing facility and Khurais oil field.

In the US, the oil and gas rig count fell by 12 rigs to 919 this week, continuing a downtrend that began in late 2018 as drilling activity slowed gradually in most domestic large unconventional basins, according to Enverus/Drilling Info data released Thursday.

Since the US rig count peaked at 1,233 last November, more than 300 oil and gas rigs -- or 25% -- have left domestic fields as oil prices have zig-zagged. In the last four weeks alone, the industry has dropped 30 rigs.

Low crude and natural gas prices were the biggest concern for operators, followed by limited capital and credit, according to the latest Dallas Federal Reserve Bank energy survey in late September.

As of 0237 GMT, the US Dollar Index was down 0.05% at 98.365.

--Ada Taib, ada.taib@spglobal.com

--Edited by Wendy Wells, wendy.wells@spglobal.com