News out of Algeria Wednesday indicated OPEC members had agreed on the need to cut crude oil output to reduce the current glut. That alone sent oil prices higher even though no actual agreement was reached.
Crude benchmarks rose more than 5% and the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 111 points.
Energy Stocks Up
Among energy stocks that were up, Whiting Petroleum Corp. (NYSE:WLLC) rose 13.5% closing at $8.21 on volume of more than 54 million shares. Ensco PLC (NYSE:ESVC) was also up double digits at 12.2%, closing at $8.15 on volume of almost 17 million shares.
Other well-known names that rode rising oil tide included Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE:CHKC), Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE:MROC) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COPC). Chesapeake was up 8.3% on volume of more than 56 million shares. Marathon rose 7.9% on volume of almost 31 million shares and Conoco jumped about 7% on volume of 13.5 million shares.
Despite the positive investor reaction, OPEC members didn’t really offer much except to say they agreed something needs to be done. The group put off serious discussion until Nov. 30 when the next OPEC meeting is held in Vienna.
Ahead of that meeting, a committee will be formed to discuss how much each country should cut oil output. That’s when the real delicate negotiations begin.
What’s Being Proposed And What It Means
Overall, the group proposed cutting combined output to between 32.5 million barrels per day and 33 million barrels per day. This represents a decline of anywhere from 200,000 to 700,000 barrels per day.
A cut of 200,000 barrels per day would not be enough to bring production in line with demand until the second half of 2017 according to the International Energy Agency. Cutting 700,000 barrels per day the glut could go away as soon as the end of this year.
At that point inventories could be drawn down and prices would rise.
Impact Of U. S. Production
Production of U.S. oil has been better than expected and has added to the oversupply that will decidedly delay the point at which demand catches up with supply.
Ironically, an oil-price rally caused by OPEC production cuts would only benefit U.S. shale producers who have cut back over the past two years due to increased operational costs and low profit margins.
Trading OPEC Action
CNBC’s “Fast Money” traders discussed how to invest in the energy sector on speculation that OPEC may cut production.
Guy Adami said companies like Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE:APCC) could see gains through the rest of this week but that refiners "are probably dead money for a little bit." Karen Finerman agreed on Anadarko.
Tim Seymour suggested investors look for companies with "impaired balance sheets” on the theory they’re the ones with the most to gain. Seymour referenced the VanEck Vectors Oil Services exchange-traded fund which seeks to replicate the price and yield performance of the MVISä US Listed Oil Services 25 Index.
CNBC trader Brian Kelly also mentioned VanEck adding that if the ETF goes below $26 it would represent a good buy. It closed at $28.10 Wednesday.