May 19, 2017 / 8:33 AM / 2 months ago

Graphic - Has the oil market grown weary of OPEC's promises?

2 Min Read

A flag with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) logo is seen before a news conference at OPEC's headquarters in Vienna, Austria, December 10, 2016.Heinz-Peter Bader/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - Is the oil market getting tired of OPEC's verbal intervention?

The price swings of recent months suggest market players want a big surprise from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) when it meets on May 25 in Vienna for oil to break above a very tight range around $50 per barrel.

OPEC leader Saudi Arabia has said it wants to see prices above $60 per barrel by the end of the year and promised to do "whatever it takes" to help clear a global glut.

But the phrase coined by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi five years ago in his successful bid to defend the euro has not had the same dramatic impact on oil.

If anything, the punch has weakened in recent weeks.

Money managers now hold more bearish bets, or short positions, on Brent than at any time since ICE began collecting data in 2011.

The premium of the December 2018 contract versus the December 2017 contract has widened since February. The premium usually indicates expectations of oversupply and hence shows growing doubts that OPEC will be able to eradicate the glut.

Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC Russia have said they want to see output curbs extended for another nine months until March 2018.

With such an extension already priced in, a real surprise could come if OPEC decided to extend for longer, deepen output cuts or restrict exports.

Editing by Alexander Smith

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