Oil Futures Drop to New Lows on Global Growth and Oil Glut Concerns
Oil futures end week on a high following Opec's production cut Reuters

Oil benchmarks extended gains above $50 per barrel on Friday (2 December), following Opec's decision to cut its headline crude production by 1.2m barrels per day (bpd) to 32.5m bpd.

At 5:24pm GMT, the Brent front month futures contract was up 0.17% or 9 cents to $54.03 per barrel, while the West Texas Intermediate was 0.47% or 24 cents at $51.30 per barrel, as the market continued to see bets to the upside.

Following the conclusion of its ministers' meeting in Vienna, Austria, on Wednesday, the cartel said the bulk of its output cut, a first real-terms reduction in eight years, would come from Saudi Arabia, which would account for 486,000 bpd.

Opec 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.

Crunch talks with Russia and other non-Opec producers are scheduled for 9 December in Moscow with a view to providing more details. Mohammed Bin Saleh Al Sada, Qatar's minister of energy and Opec president, described the decision as "historic".

"We have no regrets about not having cut production in the summer of 2014. Opec has reacted to current oil market realities in taking this decision and delivered on what we agreed in September [at the International Energy Forum in Algiers]."

Michael Wittner, global head of oil research at Société Générale, said the agreement should move Brent prices from a $40-50 range this year to a $50-60 range next year. "Of course, Opec usually does not reach its production goals; compliance with agreements is never perfect – far from it. We expect actual Opec crude output to average 33m bpd by February or March, for an actual cut of 0.7m bpd.

"We believe the cuts will be led by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Qatar. We also expect Algeria to play a leading role in implementing the cuts. Compliance from Venezuela and Iran will also be high, but we are sceptical Iraq will fully implement their cut."

FXTM's chief market strategist, Hussein Sayed, said Opec's first cut since 2008 finally signalled to the market its members can put their political conflicts aside and strike a deal.

"When many thought that Opec had no more influence on oil prices, Wednesday's events proved them wrong. If oil prices traded in the range of $50-$60, [US] shale [production] isn't likely to return in massive levels. However, if prices spiked above $60, then the shale industry will return as a major player to rebalance prices."

Away from the oil market, precious metals also recorded decent gains. At 5.55pm GMT, the Comex gold futures contract was up 0.72% or $8.40 to $1,177.80 an ounce, Comex silver was up 1.84% or 30 cents to $16.81 an ounce, while spot platinum was 1.77% or $16.18 higher at $932.53 an ounce.

Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at Forex.com, said precious metals can go up along with the dollar and amid rising yields. "Historically, a rising dollar means we are heading into a "risk-off" environment. And this week we may have seen the first glimpse of what might be upon us. After struggling to keep up with Wall Street throughout the Trump-inspired rally, European stocks tumbled.

"This time the jitters were evidenced on Wall Street too, unless you were just glued in front of the Dow chart, which barely moved thanks to its large oil constituents. The S&P and Nasdaq on the other hand, fell sharply. So, it could be the start of "risk-off" trading, which could very well last several days or weeks. As a result, the perceived safe-haven assets like gold and silver might find some much-needed support."