Crude under pressure as Opec dithers

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Orange juice prices soared to record levels on Thursday after the US Department of Agriculture forecast that Florida’s crop would be the smallest for 17 years at 135m 90-pound boxes. November orange juice traded 22.7 cents higher at $1.87 a pound after it hit a record $1.93 during the session.

Crude oil prices were rangebound in the absence of clarification from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries about its planned production cut.

Amid growing scepticism that the production cut would go through, traders said that Opec’s credibility was being damaged by the delays and the apparent lack of consensus among cartel members over which country should implement the output cut.

ICE November Brent rose 10 cents to $58.75 a barrel while Nymex November West Texas Intermediate recovered from a low for the year at $57.22 to trade 31 cents higher at $57.90 a barrel.

The Energy Information Administration released the latest US weekly inventories data that showed a 2.4m barrel increase in crude stocks, above the 0.8m barrel consensus forecast rise.

Distillate stocks were the main surprise with a fall of 1.6m barrels compared with the consensus forecast for a 0.1m barrel build.

Nymex November heating oil gained almost 2 cents at $1.6920 a gallon.

Petrol stocks rose by 0.3m barrels compared with the consensus market forecast for a 0.5m barrel decline. Nymex November unleaded gasoline added 1½ cents at $1.4650 a gallon.

Chinese oil demand growth is accelerating with crude oil imports hitting a record 3.28m barrels a day in September, up 24 per cent year on year.

Product imports hit 3.43m tonnes in September, a rise of 25.3 per cent year on year. China is also reported to be continuing to build its strategic reserves.

Natural gas prices fell after a 62bn cubic feet build in inventories, in-line with market expectations and on course for a record by the onset of winter. Nymex November Henry Hub fell 33 cents to $5.81 a million British thermal units.

Precious metals remained rangebound, under pressure from weaker oil but lacking sufficient impetus to break higher or lower. Gold traded at $575.50 a troy ounce while silver was little changed at $11.27 a troy ounce.

Lead rose 1.4 per cent to $1,474 a tonne after it hit a record $1,505 in the session. Restocking by battery manufacturers, which account for about 80 per cent of global consumption, has powered a recovery in global demand.

Nickel edged 0.2 per cent lower to $30,500 a tonne while aluminium fell 1.1 per cent to $2,587.5 a tonne while copper dipped 0.8 per cent to $7,470 a tonne.

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