Oil futures slid by over 3% on Friday (25 November) ahead of a crucial Opec meeting, where the cartel is expected to unveil its first production cut in eight years in a bid to bolster prices.
However, traders continue to question both Opec's unity in bringing about a cut at its meeting on 30 November, as well as the long-term effectiveness of such an output reduction in an already oversupplied market.
Libya, Nigeria and Iran, are unlikely to partake in an Opec cut, while non-Opec producers such as Russia are also appearing noncommittal. At 5:32pm, the WTI front month futures contract was down 3.29% or $1.58 to $46.38 per barrel, while Brent was 3.14% or $1.54 lower at $47.46 per barrel.
Overnight, Russian energy minister Alexander Novak told reporters in Moscow that a production freeze would be "quite a difficult and harsh situation" for the Kremlin's plans "envisioned an output growth next year."
"As President [Vladimir] Putin has said, we are ready to freeze production at the current levels," he added. If carried out, it would imply that Russia would pump 200,000 to 300,000 barrels per day less than it had planned for 2017.
Herman Wang, Opec Specialist at S&P Global Platts, said: "A deal may very well be likely given the lack of one would signal Opec's diminished credibility. Several countries and Opec officials have their reputations on the line. Whether the deal is merely face-saving or durable and significant is the key question."
With some in the market factoring in a real-terms Opec cut of 1.1m bpd, Wang added that the details of the deal and how it is implemented will be key . "That is because Opec has no formal authority to enforce compliance. Whether non-Opec producers choose to participate is even less within its control."
Furthermore, analysts at Vienna-based JBC Energy said: "We feel that the impact of any Opec decision on average 2017 prices is significantly overrated, as any potential output cut would constitute only a relatively small piece of the global supply/demand puzzle, with counterbalancing factors (e.g. US shale) ready to step in."
Away from the oil market, the precious metals slide – courtesy of a stronger dollar – was partially stemmed by the US thanksgiving holiday lull. At 5:41pm, the Comex gold contract for February delivery was down 0.85% or $10.10 to $1,179.20 an ounce.
Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst at FOREX.com, said the rising dollar, yields and US equity prices have all weighed on the appeal of the greenback-denominated, non-interest-bearing and perceived safe haven precious metal.
"Speculators have apparently lightened up their long dollar and short gold positions, which makes sense in this shortened trading week for US investors in particular. However, the fact that the dollar remains fundamentally supported makes us remain bearish on gold."
Elsewhere in the precious metals market, Comex silver contract for March delivery was up 0.27% or 5¢ to $16.53 an ounce, while spot platinum slid 0.98% or $8.96 to $906.59 an ounce.