The oil market's recent Opec-inspired rally returned with aplomb on Friday (9 December) ahead of crunch talks between producers in Vienna this weekend.
At 3:49pm GMT, the Brent front month futures contract was up 0.61% or 32 cents to $54.21 per barrel, while the West Texas Intermediate was 1.16% or 59 cents higher at $51.43 per barrel with the market evenly split between doubters and believers on whether something convincing would emerge between Opec and non-Opec producers.
Following the conclusion of its ministers' meeting in Vienna, Austria, on 30 November, Opec introduced its first real-terms output cut in eight years, of 1.2m bpd to 32.5m bpd, which would take effect from January 2017.
At the time, the cartel also said its output cut will be supported by non-Opec producers to the tune of a 600,000 bpd reduction, of which the Russian federation will account for 300,000 bpd.
The finer points of cuts allocated to non-Opec producers will be up for discussion with market commentators evenly split on a positive outcome emerging. There is still some speculation over who will attend the meeting. So far, Russia, Oman, Mexico, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan have confirmed they will participate.
Analysts at Vienna-based JBC energy said: "Apart from Russia, which is a special case, we believe that it would be very difficult to differentiate between cut agreements and natural decline rates for the majority of the countries mooted to be invited. In short, we do not expect the outcome of this meeting to play a significant role in rebalancing the oil market."
Furthermore, there is growing conjecture that any price uptick would be supportive of the US shale industry. In a statement, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said: "A price recovery above $50 per barrel could contribute to supply growth in US tight oil regions and in other non-Opec producing countries that do not participate in the Opec-led supply reductions.
"Crude oil prices near $50 per barrel have led to increased investment by some US production companies, particularly those operating in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico.
"The difference between Opec's and EIA's production estimates reflects, in part, differences in production in Indonesia, Libya, and Nigeria, which are not participating in the agreement. Opec's agreed-upon output levels for early 2017 were similar to EIA's recent forecast, and already included some expectation of slower production growth in 2017."
Away from the oil market, precious metals got clobbered on profit-taking as the US Federal Reserve meeting neared. At 15:14pm GMT, the Comex gold futures contract was down 0.66% or $7.70 to $1,164.70 an ounce, Comex silver was slid 0.47% or 8 cents to $17.00 an ounce, while spot platinum was 1.82% or $17.09 lower at $921.26 an ounce.
FXTM research analyst Lukman Otunuga said gold was heavily pressured during trading on Thursday following the European Central Bank's decision to start tapering its monetary policy stimulus to the eurozone.
"Dollar's resurgence amid the rising US rate hike expectations complemented the selloff with gold prices finding comfort around $1,170. Heightened speculations of a US interest rate rise this year have exposed gold to downside risks.
"From a technical standpoint, gold fulfils the prerequisites of a bear trend as there have been consistently lower lows and lower highs. Next week's US rate hike increase could install Gold bears with enough inspiration to send prices lower towards $1,150."