OIL PRICE: ABOVE $62 YET
REUTERS, BLOOMBERG - Oil markets were tepid on Monday as traders were reluctant to take on big new positions ahead of an OPEC meeting at the end of the month, when the producer club is expected to decide whether to continue output cuts aimed at propping up prices.
Brent crude futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $62.56 per barrel at 0439 GMT, down 16 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last close.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $56.59 a barrel, up 4 cents, or 0.1 percent, from their last settlement.
Traders said they were avoiding taking on large new positions due to uncertainty in markets.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), together with a group of non-OPEC producers led by Russia, has been restraining output since the start of this year in a bid to end a global supply overhang and prop up prices.
The deal to curb output is due to expire in March 2018, but OPEC will meet on Nov. 30 to discuss the outlook for the policy.
OPEC is expected to agree an extension of the cut as storage levels remain high despite recent drawdowns, although there are doubts about the willingness of some participants to continue to restrain output.
"(The) OPEC meeting remains the key sector catalyst into year-end ... The market expectation is for an extension through 2018, created by OPEC comments early this fall ... (but) there is increased risk that OPEC delays the extension decision," U.S. bank Morgan Stanley said on Monday in a note to clients.
Morgan Stanley said that the question over extended cuts "has shifted to non-OPEC participants' willingness to extend, primarily Russia".
Despite this, Greg McKenna of futures brokerage AxiTrader said it was "worth noting data showed more longs added by the speculative community", indicating expectations of rising prices.
In the United States, the number of rigs drilling for new oil production remained unchanged in the week to Nov. 17, at 738, data from oil services firm Baker Hughes showed on Friday.
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PLATTS - State-run Indian Oil Corp has signed its first US term crude oil deal, buying 6 million barrels, as the Asian buyer steps up efforts to devise an alternative buying strategy amid uncertainty about purchases from Iran because of US sanctions.
PLATTS - Angola's crude oil exports rebounded to a four-month high of 1.63 mil b/d in June even as the OPEC member struggles to arrest declines at some of its ageing deepwater oil fields, finance ministry data showed.
BAKER HUGHES A GE - U.S. Rig Count is up 13 rigs from last week to 1,057, with oil rigs up 10 to 869, gas rigs up 3 to 186, and miscellaneous rigs unchanged at 2. Canada Rig Count is down 14 rigs from last week to 209, with oil rigs down 12 to 140 and gas rigs down 2 to 69.
REUTERS - Front-month Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were at $71.88 per barrel at 0646 GMT, down 19 cents, or 0.3 percent from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were down by 22 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $66.59 a barrel.