By Barry Eitel
U.S. crude oil prices closed Wednesday at their highest levels in over three years.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, Brent crude, considered the international benchmark, was trading at $68.82 per barrel at the close of markets while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude ended at $62.96 per barrel.
The price upturn began in June last year, and now prices are nearing levels from late 2014. On Nov. 28, 2014, the day after Thanksgiving, Brent crude was trading at $70.15 per barrel and WTI closed at $66.15.
Prices have fallen for three years straight since then because of a meeting between oil-producing nations on Thanksgiving where Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil exporter, said it would not curb output to balance out an international glut.
The current surge in prices is linked to a decision in November 2016 where Saudi Arabia and the 13 other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) finally agreed to curb output.
The increased crude prices are already having an impact at gas stations across the U.S. According to travel analyst group AAA, the $2.49 per gallon average U.S. gas price on New Year’s Day of 2018 was the most expensive price for that date since 2014. GasBuddy also released a forecast for 2018 last week that predicted gas prices will be at their highest levels since 2014.
Goldman Sachs said Wednesday it believed OPEC would try to talk down crude oil prices if Brent tops $70 a barrel.
“OPEC members do not want to see that,” Jeff Currie, Goldman Sachs’ chief of commodities research, said in a television interview with Bloomberg.
“In general, we’ll probably see more noise and rhetoric if prices trade above $70 a barrel in the coming days to push this market back down to lower levels.”
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