September 21, 2018 / 1:01 AM / 3 months ago

Oil stable, OPEC in focus after Trump call for lower prices

SEOUL, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Oil prices were little changed on Friday after falling in the previous session as U.S. President Donald Trump urged OPEC to lower crude prices at its meeting in Algeria this weekend.

International benchmark Brent crude for November delivery was up 4 cents at $78.74 a barrel by 0053 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery fell 5 cents to $70.27 a barrel.

President Trump called on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to lower prices, saying on Twitter “they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices.”

OPEC and its allies are scheduled to meet on Sunday in Algeria to discuss how to allocate supply increases to offset a shortage of Iran supplies due to U.S. sanctions.

Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at OANDA in Singapore, said Trump’s remarks just days before the OPEC meeting put “a focus on the likely supply impacts of U.S.-led Iran sanctions.”

“The market had until that point been trading fluidly with the assumption that Saudi Arabia is now comfortable with Brent at $80 or even higher, which is challenging the market’s long-held supposition that prompt Brent between $70 and $80 was OPEC’s sweet spot,” Innes added.

Brent has been trading just below $80 a barrel, backed by concerns of supply shortages from looming U.S. sanctions against Iran, which are set to take effect in November.

Although supply worries have pushed up oil prices, OPEC and its allies were not likely to agree to an official increase in crude output at this weekend’s meeting, OPEC sources said. (Reporting By Jane Chung; editing by Richard Pullin)

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