Oil Prices Marginally Higher, WTI Flirts with $51 Per Barrel

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures for delivery in November were 0.2% higher at $50.87 per barrel during Wednesday’s pre-market trading session while Brent oil futures for delivery in December were 0.1% higher at $52.48 per barrel.

The pre-bell price advances come ahead of the release of minutes from the Federal Open Markets Committee’s (FOMC) latest rate-setting meeting. Due to be released at 2pm EDT, the minutes will be scoured for clues as to the possible timing of an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

Also feeding into oil trading sentiment was a slightly higher greenback. At the time of writing, the Dollar Index, which tracks the value of the greenback against a basket of currencies, was 0.1% higher. As a dollar-denominated commodity, a higher dollar tends to make oil less affordable for international buyers.

Oil prices have been advancing of late, though, thanks to an agreement in principle among members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to cut output for the first time in eight years. Details of the agreement, made at the end of September, are expected to be finalized during OPEC’s upcoming meeting on November 30.

Oversupply coupled with concern over a future decline in demand from countries which have traditionally been major oil consumers resulted in the price of oil falling to a level last seen more than a decade ago in January.

By Bryan Smith