PRICES DROP FOR 4TH DAY: OPEC pledges action as oil demand woes mount

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    LONDON/MOSCOW/DUBAI- OPEC and allied producers pledged action to support the oil market as concerns mounted that a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic will hobble demand and an earlier plan to raise output from next year would further depress prices.

    Oil prices slipped for a fourth straight day yesterday with Brent crude futures falling 32 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $42.30 a barrel, after falling 31 cents on Monday.

    US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures slid 26 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $40.57 a barrel, after losing 5 cents on Monday.

    COVID-19 cases topped 40 million on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, with a growing second wave in Europe and North America sparking new clampdowns.

    Saudi Arabia, the biggest member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), said no-one should doubt the group’s commitment to providing support, while three sources from producing countries said a planned output increase from January could be reversed if necessary.

    Already Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held two phone calls last week. Kremlin Dmitry Peskov spokesman said regular contact was necessary as the markets were volatile.

    OPEC and its allies, including Russia, collectively known as OPEC+, have curbed output since January 2017 to try to support prices and reduce inventories.

    “This group has shown, especially in this year, that it has the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances when required. We will not dodge our responsibilities in this regard,” Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said.

    “Nobody in the market should be in any doubt as to our commitment and our intent,” Prince Abdulaziz told the opening of an OPEC+ ministerial monitoring committee (JMMC).