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Dubai crude futures spreads rangebound as market awaits fresh cues

New York — Benchmark Dubai crude futures was trading at rangebound levels at noon on July 1, the first trading day for the month of September, as market participants await fresh cues, including the release of Middle East official selling prices.

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At 12 pm in Singapore (0400 GMT), the August-September Dubai crude futures spread was pegged at a 19 cents/b backwardation, widening 6 cents/b from the 13 cents/b assessed at the 4:30 pm close (0830 GMT) on June 30, S&P Global Platts data showed.

The September-October spread was pegged at 6 cents/b at noon on July 1, slightly wider than the 4 cents/b assessed at the Asian close on June 30.

The September Brent-Dubai Exchange Futures for Swaps spread, or EFS, was also rangebound at a 90 cents/b premium, compared with the 94 cents/b premium assessed at the Asian close on June 30, Platts data showed.

The new front-month September Dubai futures contract was pegged at $40.84/b at noon on July 1. The contract was assessed at $40.73/b at 4:30 pm in Singapore June 30.

The sour crude complex has largely stabilized after rallying for most of June on the back of OPEC+ extension of production cuts, which saw producers in the Middle East lowering their exports to the region.

The front-month Dubai cash futures spread -- a proxy of spot market sentiment for Middle East sour crudes in Asia -- averaged at 84 cents/b over June, up $3.57/b from an average of minus $2.73/b over May and the highest since January, Platts data showed.

Market participants will be seeking fresh cues on market direction this month, with the expected release of OSPs from Middle East producers in the coming days being one of them.

Some traders said a large increase in OSPs, particularly for the lighter grades, could dampen demand from Asian refineries for these Middle East barrels.

"US barrels are moving here [and] freight is cheap at the moment. Floating barrels were partly released [last month] but the majority [is] still there. [With the backwardated] structure no longer supporting floating [economics], [it is a] matter of time for them to be released," said a Southeast Asian crude trader.

The OPEC+ alliance's 9.7 million b/d production cuts, meanwhile, are scheduled to ease back to 7.7 million b/d starting in August, though a monitoring committee plans to meet monthly to determine if any changes are needed. Its next meeting is slated for July 15.