Oil prices were little changed on Monday as comments from the Iraqi oil minister cast doubt as to whether the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would decide to boost output at its upcoming meeting.
All three major US stock indexes were trading in positive territory on Monday, just hours ahead of the meeting in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 was down 65 cents at $75,81 a barrel by 1330 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 rose 36 cents to settle at $66.07, its highest level since June 1.
These developments are setting the stage for a tense meeting later this month at which OPEC and allies are expected to discuss reversing some of the cuts to offset potential supply disruptions.
"Markets are braced for the most fractious conference as OPEC members look fundamentally divided", said Phillip Futures analyst Benjamin Lu.
Saudi Arabia, which along with Russian Federation is trying to garner support for lifting output limits, told the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries that its daily production rose 162,000 barrels a day to 10.030 million in May compared with the previous month, a person with knowledge of the data said, asking not to be identified because the information isn't public. "And now we're seeing a number of OPEC producers who are in favour of the status quo", said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow and Associates in Houston.
Yesterday, Iraq's Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luiebi said Baghdad "rejects unilateral decisions by some oil producers without consulting the rest of the members" of OPEC, clearly signaling that Saudi Arabia, leader of the OPEC pack as it may be, is not free to raise production without telling anyone about it. Related: Can Saudi Arabia Prevent The Next Oil Shock?
Meanwhile, Russian news agency Interfax reported on Saturday that Russia's oil production, the world's biggest, had risen to 11.1 million bpd in early June, up from slightly below 11 million bpd in most of May and well above its target production of under 11 million bpd as part of the deal. This suggests US crude output, already at a record 10.8 million bpd, will climb further.