Brent Ends 2013 Nearly Unchanged, US Crude Up 7% On The Year


Brent crude fell on Tuesday, ending 2013 almost unchanged following a year in which traders balanced a spate of supply disruptions from Middle East and Africa against surging output from the United States.

Weighed down by expectations oil shipments from some shuttered Libyan ports would resume soon, Brent finished the year just 31 cents its end-2012 level of $111.11 a barrel. The international benchmark traded in a $22 range from $96.75 to $119.17 this year, the narrowest band since 2006.

U.S. crude closed the year 7.2 percent firmer as traders headed into 2014 eyeing improving demand, the end of the Federal Reserve's monetary stimulus and the dramatic overhaul of the world's largest oil market caused by the shale revolution.

U.S. crude traded within a $27 range throughout 2013, also the narrowest band since 2006.

Brent's premium to U.S. crude, or West Texas Intermediate (WTI) traded at just over $12 a barrel on Tuesday, down from more than $19 a barrel at the end of last year. In July, the two benchmarks reached parity and WTI briefly rose above Brent for the first time since 2010.

"We saw quite a lot of drama in those spreads in 2013; that was the trade of the year," said Katherine Spector, head of commodities strategy at CIBC World Markets.

"It's still trying to find that equilibrium. I think we'll continue to see WTI trade $10 to $12 under Brent."


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