Crude Higher on Stockpile Decline, OPEC Bickering (USO) (BNO)

December 12, 2012 11:01 AM EST
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WTI crude oil prices moved higher in early trading on Wednesday, ahead of EIA weekly crude inventory data. Analysts were calling for gains of 843k barrels, and were surprised by a decline of 2.5 million barrels. API data on Tuesday showed supplies grew 4.3 million barrels.

With the decline in stockpiles, oil prices continue to trade higher on the session, with Brent prices briefly retaking $110 per barrel. The uptick in Brent prices came despite disagreements among OPEC members.

On Wednesday, OPEC said it would maintain a 30 million barrel per day ceiling, though the meeting was not without controversy, as reports claim bickering among the group's top three producers - Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.

With Brent prices still in the group's comfort zone, OPEC member are largely able to overlook differences of opinion about individual product levels, but if Brent prices decline below $100 as some predict, tensions could fray.

Eventually OPEC will have to come to terms with increasing oil and gas production in North America, as fracking leads to greater efficiency and increased output.

For now, on a medium term basis, both Brent and WTI prices appear to be in consolidation mode, but observers are closely watching NA production, and some are predicting the new trend will lead to lower WTI prices and/ or decoupling with Brent.

United States Oil ETF (NYSE: USO) traded higher by 1 percent on early on Wednesday.

United States Brent Oil (NYSE: BNO) was higher by 1.15 percent.

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