opec: Oil prices skid $3 a barrel as investors take profits ahead of OPEC+ meeting

Oil prices fell by around $3 a barrel in early Asian trade on Thursday as investors cashed in on a recent rally with a key producers meeting later in the day set to pave the way for expected output increases.

Brent crude was down $2.76, or 2.4%, at $113.53 a barrel at 0024 GMT, having risen 0.6% the previous day.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dropped $2.89, or 2.9%, to $112.37 a barrel, after a 0.5% rise on Wednesday.

The benchmarks have marched higher for several weeks as Russian exports are being squeezed by EU and U.S. sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, actions that Russia calls a “special operation”.

While China’s gradual emergence from strict COVID-19 lockdowns has added to price support, a stronger U.S. dollar also dented oil prices on Thursday as it makes crude more expensive for those holding other currencies.

“Investors took profits ahead of the OPEC+ meeting and on the higher dollar,” said Kazuhiko Saito, chief analyst at Fujitomi Securities Co Ltd, referring to a grouping of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and associated allied producers, including Russia.

“We expect no surprise from OPEC+ as the group is unlikely to change their policy when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is visiting Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Saito predicted the market will regain ground after the meeting due to lingering tightness in global supply and strong demand for fuels in the United States and Europe.

OPEC+ is set to stick to its monthly modest oil output increases, despite seeing tighter global markets, five OPEC+ sources said on Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that some OPEC members were considering the idea of suspending Russia from the deal to allow other producers to pump significantly more crude as sought by the United States and European nations.

But two OPEC+ sources told Reuters a technical meeting on Wednesday did not discuss the idea of suspending Russia from the deal. Six other OPEC+ delegates said the idea was not being discussed by the group.

An OPEC+ technical committee trimmed its forecast for the 2022 oil market surplus by about 500,000 bpd to 1.4 million bpd, two OPEC+ sources said.

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