Oil Stays Battered
(Bloomberg) -- Oil’s struggling to recover from its biggest three-day slump since 2016 as the specter of slowing global growth haunts investors who are already worried about a glut.
Futures were little changed in New York after tumbling 12 percent over the past three sessions. Fears over growth persisted as Chinese President Xi Jinping showed little signs of backing down in a trade dispute with the U.S. and the market braced for a Federal Reserve rate hike. Meanwhile, there are doubts over the effectiveness of output cuts pledged by the OPEC+ coalition at a time when American inventories are rising and Russia is pumping more.
“Commodities are not immune to concerns about the global economic outlook, and this is driving negative sentiment across all asset classes,” said Stephen Innes, the head of trading for Asia Pacific at Oanda Corp. in Singapore. “The toxic combination of oversupply worries and global growth distress should see oil prices languish into the year-end.”
Crude has collapsed almost 40 percent from a four-year high in early October, and is set for the worst quarterly decline since December 2014. After taking a battering over the past few sessions, U.S. oil is in oversold territory for the first time since Nov. 30. Skepticism that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies won’t be able to trim a glut in the face of surging American shale production and stockpiles has kept a lid on prices.
West Texas Intermediate for January delivery, which expires Wednesday, was at $46.33 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 9 cents, at 7:34 a.m. in London. The contract closed 7.3 percent lower at $46.24 on Tuesday. Total volume traded was about 32 percent above the 100-day average. The more-active February contract added 8 cents to $46.68.
Brent for February settlement added 19 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $56.45 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices dropped 5.6 percent to $56.26 on Tuesday, the lowest close since October 2017. The global benchmark crude traded at a $9.78 premium to WTI for the same month.
The industry-funded American Petroleum Institute was said to report that U.S. crude inventories rose 3.45 million barrels last week, adding to fears of an oversupply after a government report on Monday said shale output is set to expand. At the same time, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said the country’s oil production is rising, though it’s preparing to implement reductions to conform with an accord between OPEC and its allies.
While the U.S. and China -- the world’s two biggest economies -- are planning to hold meetings in January to negotiate a broader truce in their trade spat, a speech by Xi on Tuesday fueled concerns over slowing growth as he pushed back against critics abroad, such as American President Donald Trump, and did not outline new policies that would stimulate the economy.
In the U.S., investors are bracing for Wednesday’s Federal Reserve policy decision against the backdrop of a recent rout in global markets, which has put equities on course for the worst year since 2008. While an interest-rate increase is widely expected, it’s rare for the central bank to hike during such market turmoil.
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