Oil drops to 3-week low below $ 114

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Updated 22 February 2013
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Oil drops to 3-week low below $ 114

LONDON: Oil fell to a three-week low around $ 114 a barrel, hit by weak euro zone economic data, dampening the prospect of an early recovery and concern the US Federal Reserve might end its stimulus program sooner than thought.
The drop extended Brent crude’s largest one-day slide in 2013 on Wednesday, alongside declines in other commodities and equities.
Brent crude LCOc1 fell as low as $ 113.34, the lowest intra-day since the end of January. It pared losses slightly after US government data showed a bigger-than-expected drop in gasoline and distillates stocks to trade down $ 1.50 at $ 114.10 a barrel as of 1630 GMT.
US crude CLc1 dropped by $ 2.04 to $ 93.18.
“Yesterday was a major sell-off, not just in oil but in other commodities,” said Tony Machacek, a broker at Jefferies Bache in London.
“We’ve come off a long way, and just looking at the charts, Brent could come down to the $ 113 area.”
Since mid-December, hedge funds and other large speculators have nearly doubled their bets that oil prices will rise, amassing positions in Brent and US crude futures and options equivalent to around 440 million barrels of oil, regulatory and exchange data show.
The price of Brent rose by $ 10 a barrel in the first six weeks of 2013 to hit a nine-month high above $ 119 on Feb. 8 as signs of strong demand from China and lower Saudi supply raised expectations of a tighter market.
“Brent was overbought amid overwhelming investor interest, an increased geopolitical premium and bullish macro sentiment, while short-term fundamentals simply do not justify sustained gains past $ 120,” said Andrey Kryuchenkov, an analyst at VTB Capital in London.
A key level of technical support for Brent on Thursday was around $ 113.10, the 50-day moving average and the lower Bollinger band, said Olivier Jakob, an analyst at Petromatrix. Another to watch was $ 113.07, the low from Jan. 29.
Brent’s price decline stopped short of that zone of support by Thursday afternoon, while US crude traded below its own 50-day moving average for the first time since December.
Equities and the euro also fell sharply as surveys showed the downturn in the euro-zone’s businesses worsened unexpectedly this month.
Economists had forecast the euro zone purchasing managers’ indexes (PMIs) would add to tentative signs a recovery was under way, but instead they pointed to a first-quarter contraction of up to 0.3 percent.
The US Labor Department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 362,000 last week, but still held at levels consistent with a steady improvement in labor market conditions.
On Wednesday, minutes of the US Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting cast doubt over how much longer the US central bank would stick to its stimulus plan, leading to declines in the euro, equities and commodities.
A day earlier, oil industry sources said Saudi Arabia, which cut supplies in the last two months of 2012, could raise its output in the second quarter to satisfy higher demand.
Investors also assessed the prospect of reduced tension between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear work. A Western diplomat said on Wednesday major powers were ready to make “a substantial and serious offer” to Iran during talks next week.
Slightly offseting the bearish sentiment, US refined fuel inventories fell more than expected in the week to Feb. 15, US government data from the Energy Information Administration showed on Thursday, although US crude inventories rose as refineries processed less oil and imports rose.


Oil prices fall on expected output rise after OPEC deal

Updated 12 min 7 sec ago
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Oil prices fall on expected output rise after OPEC deal

SINGAPORE: Brent crude oil prices fell over 1.5 percent on Monday as traders factored in an expected output increase that was agreed at the headquarters of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna on Friday.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $74.21 per barrel at 0343 GMT, down 1.8 percent from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $68.40 a barrel, down 0.3 percent, supported more than Brent by a slight drop in US drilling activity.
Prices initially jumped after the deal was announced late last week as it was not seen boosting supply by as much as some had expected.
OPEC and non-OPEC partners including Russia have since 2017 cut output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to tighten the market and prop up prices.
Largely because of unplanned disruptions in places like Venezuela and Angola, the group’s output has been below the targeted cuts, which it now says will be reversed by supply rises especially from OPEC leader Saudi Arabia. Although analysts warn there is little space capacity for large-scale output increases.
“Several ministers suggested that (rises) would correspond to a 0.7 million bpd increase in production,” said US bank Goldman Sachs following the announcement of the agreement, although it added that were risks “that Iran production may be even lower than we assume” and that its output could fall further due to looming US sanctions.
Still, Britain’s Barclays bank said OPEC’s and Russia’s commitments would take “the market from a -0.2 million bpd deficit in H2 2018 to a 0.2 million bpd surplus.”
Energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie said the agreement “represents a compromise between responding to consumer pressure and the need for oil-producing countries to maintain oil prices and prevent harming their economies.”
In the United States, US energy companies last week cut one oil rig, the first reduction in 12 weeks, taking the total rig count to 862, Baker Hughes said on Friday.
That put the rig count on track for its smallest monthly gain since declining by two rigs in March with just three rigs added so far in June, although the overall level remains just one rig short of the March 2015 high from the previous week.