- NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices fell more than 2 percent on Monday, with U.S. crude tumbling below $50 a barrel, on signs of oversupply in the United States and as investor concern over global economic growth and fuel demand grows.
Brent crude oil LCOc1 fell 67 cents, or 1.11 percent, to settle at $59.61 a barrel after dropping to a session low of $58.83 a barrel.
U.S. crude CLc1 dropped $1.32, or 2.58 percent, to end the session at $49.88 a barrel and tumbled to a low of $49.09 a barrel. Benchmark U.S. crude futures settled below $50 for the first time since October 2017.
U.S. crude futures fell after inventories at the storage hub of Cushing, Oklahoma, rose by more than 1 million barrels from Dec. 11 to 14, traders said, citing data from market intelligence firm Genscape.
Traders and market participants closely watch supplies at the hub because it is the delivery point for the futures contract and underpins nearly all other regional crude grades.
“The Cushing number came in higher than anticipated. … It’s definitely pointing to the concern that there’s more supply and demand is weakening,” said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
“A lot of the shale producers can’t make money where prices are right now, let alone below $50, so we’re going to see a cutback in some of the production estimates, but it takes time for that to happen …. right now we’re definitely following the continued weakness in momentum.”
Increasing concerns about weakening growth in major markets such as China and Europe have also dampened the mood in oil and other asset classes.
Broad stock market declines in Europe and the United States on Monday dragged equity markets lower around the world, adding to a sell-off that has sent global shares near 17-month lows.
Both U.S. crude and Brent crude benchmarks fell more than 30 percent from early October through the end of November as the supply glut inflated global inventories. But they have stabilized over the last three weeks, trading within fairly narrow ranges as oil producers promised to cut production.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies have agreed to reduce output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from January, in a move to be reviewed at a meeting in April.
United Arab Emirates energy minister Suhail al-Mazrouei told reporters in Dubai on Monday that the oil market was correcting and he expected everyone to stick to the plan.
Some investors doubt the planned cuts would be enough to rebalance markets, however.
U.S. shale output is growing steadily, taking market share from the big Middle East oil producers in OPEC and making it harder for them to balance their budgets.
Oil production from seven major U.S. shale basins is expected to surpass 8 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of the year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a monthly report on Monday.
As inventories at Cushing rise, front-month U.S. crude futures traded as much as 33 cents below the second month CLc1-CLc2, the widest level since October 2017.
Russian oil output has been at a record high of 11.42 million barrels per day (bpd) in December so far, an industry source familiar with the data told Reuters.
Chinese oil refinery throughput in November fell from October, suggesting an easing in oil demand, while the country’s industrial output rose the least in nearly three years as the economy continued to lose momentum.