Oil futures stayed within recent range on Tuesday (18 October), alternating between modest intraday gains and declines for much of the Asian and European trading sessions, as latest data from Saudi Arabia pointed to lower crude production.
According to the latest submission by Saudis to the Joint Organisations Data Initiative (JODI), Riyadh's crude oil exports in August fell to 7.305m barrels per day (bpd) from 7.622m bpd in July, as the kingdom pumped less oil.
On the latter point, the Saudi oil production from August came in at 10.63m bpd, down from a record high of 10.673m bpd noted in July.
At 3:08pm BST, the West Texas Intermediate front month futures contract was down 0.02% or a cent to $49.70 per barrel, while Brent was 0.19% or 10 cents lower at $51.42 per barrel, as both benchmarks stayed largely flat.
Opec agreed to limit its production to a range of 32.5m to 33m (bpd) on 28 September, but will only spell out the nature of the cuts on 30 November. However, the cartel's internal data suggests it expects additional production from the troubled hotspots of Nigeria and Libya, along with Iraq.
Analysts at JBC Energy noted: "Bearish comments from Iran signal the intent to raise the country's output to some 4m bpd in the short-term. This is another reminder of the potential difficulties that Opec may face in effectively managing production going forward."
Away from the oil market, precious metals remained in positive territory but yet again failed to build any convincing momentum to the upside. At 3:16pm BST, Comex gold futures contract for December delivery was up 0.21% or $2.60 to $1,259.20 an ounce, up intraday but well below $1,300-plus levels seen last month.
In their monthly assessment of the gold market, analysts at Sucden Financial said the coming quarters may present significant headwinds to the global economic outlook and as a result could see investment demand for the yellow metal pick up considerably.
"With the US presidential elections in November this year, a December referendum tabled in Italy, the expectation of Article 50 triggered by March 2017, French presidential elections in the second quarter of 2017 and German federal elections shortly after that, uncertainty will likely foster an opaque investment outlook," they wrote in a note to clients.
Elsewhere, Comex silver for December delivery was up 0.39% or 8 cents to $17.56 an ounce, while spot platinum was up 0.64% or $6.00 at $943.65 an ounce.