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Oil up 5th week ahead of OPEC meet; resistance building

Oil up 5th week ahead of OPEC meet; resistance building
© Reuters. – Non-stop chanting about Saudi output cuts; forecast-beating U.S. economic growth and fewer Americans filing unemployment claims despite moderating jobs growth — oil has little reason not to rally.

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate, or WTI, crude, along with London-based Brent oil both finished up for a fifth straight week, riding the rhetoric that supply was getting critically tight versus supply — although weekly petroleum data from the U.S. government barely supported that notion.

But after a gain of as much as 14% for July alone, the rally is beginning to show some strain. 

The market treaded water most of Friday before settling higher towards the end. Earlier, longs in the game appeared undecided on whether to take profit and re-enter with new positions on Monday or hold on hold for another week till next Friday’s OPEC meeting where more jawboning on oil prices was expected.

“OPEC knows it has a good thing going and it’s unlikely to pass up on the opportunity to use the hailer again to drive home the messaging of the perma cuts by the Saudis,” said John Kilduff, partner at New York energy hedge fund Again Capital. “Oil bulls also know that the cuts mantra will be echoing all of next week and that explains why so few want to take profit in today’s session.”

The Saudis have pledged to take an additional million barrels per day off their production for all this month — and possibly forever — if that meant keeping the market above $80 a barrel at any time. 

That promise is a powerful motivator for oil bulls as Saudi production would theoretically drop by a total of 2.5 million barrels daily from their norm of 9.5 million a day. With cuts pledged by Russia and nine other oil producers participating in the production squeeze by the 13-member OPEC, the market is missing at least 4.0 million barrels per day in daily supply.

Despite the widely-bandied about production cut numbers, weekly petroleum inventory data released by the U.S. government show a market getting by each week with more supply than thought — as well as light demand for fuel in what ought to be runaway consumption for the summer. 

At Friday’s close, for delivery in September settled up 49 cents, or 0.6%, at $80.58 a barrel. The U.S. crude benchmark hit a new three-month high of $80.69 during the session, extending Thursday’s peak. For the week, it rose 4.6% after a cumulative gain of 11.4% over four prior weeks. With just another session left for July, WTI was also up 14% for the month. 

for October delivery settled up 75 cents, or 0.9%, at $84.99 per barrel. The global crude benchmark finished the week up 4.8%, adding to the prior four-week gain of 9.8%. For July, Brent showed a gain of more than 12%.

While there is no immediate threat of a reversal to the oil rally — not with an OPEC meeting round the corner — WTI was slowly headed toward the key resistance of $86, said Sunil Kumar Dixit, chief technical strategist at

“Holding above the 5-day EMA of $79.10 is a precondition for continuation of current bullish momentum,” Dixit said, referring to the Exponential Moving Average. 

He said the next immediate target of oil longs would be the 100-week SMA, or Simple Moving Average, of $85.30 and the monthly Middle Bollinger Band of $86.40

“These two levels are likely to act as the resistance zone in mid-term,” he added.

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