Ahead of a widely anticipated meeting for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) later this month, the United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO), which tracks West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures, is off about 3% over the past week. However, that does not mean oil is bereft of potential near-term upside catalysts.
OPEC plans to diminish output to a range of 32.5 to 33.0 million barrels per day from its current estimated output of 33.24 million barrels per day. While Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest producer, has agreed to reduce output, Iran, Libya and Nigeria might not follow suit.
U.S. shale drillers have been paring production in an effort to improve profitability, but some OPEC members and other major producers, including Russia, continue pumping despite lower prices. That scenario is seen as a significant headwind for oil price upside.
Other oil traders believe 2017 will be fertile ground for an oil rally. While production has declined in the U.S., recently rebounding oil prices are encouraging exploration and production companies to revisit spending plans with some increasing capital expenditures. That has some oil market observers concerned about a rising rig count and the subsequent impact on crude prices.
Some market observers believe last week’s shocking victory by Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election could be a boon for oil prices.
“Suddenly, however, there is a ray of hope in OPEC’s dark world, and it comes courtesy of president-elect Donald Trump, who just may eliminate as much as 1 million barrels of OPEC oil output, or the cartel’s entire excess production, should he undo the Iran nuclear agreement, which is extremely unpopular in GOP circles,” according to OilPrice.com.