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Oil hits three-month lows as downbeat mood persists ahead off festive break

US light crude oil was down 30 cents at $45.28, on course for a decline of 11.0% for the week.

Reuters  |  London 

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fell to their lowest since the third quarter of 2017 on Friday, heading for losses of 11 percent in a week, as global oversupply kept buyers away from the market ahead of the long festive break.

fell $1.56 to a low of $52.79 a barrel, its weakest since September 2017, before rallying to trade around $53.35, down 11.5 percent on the week, by 1435 GMT.

US light was down 30 cents at $45.28, on course for a decline of 11.0 percent for the week.

Crude has lost ground along with major equity markets as investors fret about the strength of the global economy heading into next year. The prospect of a possible government shutdown in the United States, the world's biggest oil consumer, added to investors' worries.

Falls were exaggerated by thin trade and risk aversion ahead of Christmas and the New Year holidays, traders said.

"To say things are a bit negative (is) a significant understatement," said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at OANDA.

Since reaching multi-year highs at the beginning of October, both benchmarks have lost more than a third of their value in their steepest collapse for three years.

Driving the sell-off has been sustained oversupply as the has emerged as the world's biggest crude producer thanks to the success of its shale industry.

The now pumps 11.6 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude, putting it ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The big oil producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, dominated by Middle East Gulf states which mostly rely on energy exports, have agreed to reduce production to try to push up prices.

But those output cuts - a reduction with Russia and other non-producers of 1.2 million bpd - do not kick in until next month, and meanwhile global inventories are filling up fast.

"The bear fest continues," said Stephen Brennock, analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil.

"According to OPEC's own forecasts, global oil stocks will build by 500,000 bpd in the first half of 2019. This will compound a glut in OECD commercial oil stocks."

In an effort to show its commitment to reducing supply, will release a table detailing output cut quotas for its members and allies such as Russia, Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo said in a letter reviewed by Reuters.

To reach the proposed cut of 1.2 million bpd, the effective reduction for member countries was 3.02 percent, Barkindo said.

That is higher than the initially discussed cuts of 2.5 percent as OPEC seeks to accommodate Iran, Libya and Venezuela, which are exempt from any requirement to cut.


First Published: Fri, December 21 2018. 20:39 IST