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Oil prices tumble as Donald Trump dials Opec to lower gasoline prices

Futures in New York fell as much as 4.5 per cent on Friday, wiping away gains from earlier in the week that had followed the US' vow of tougher sanctions on Iran

Alex Nussbaum & Alex Longley | Bloomberg  |  New York/London 

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Oil prices fell the most since December as US President Donald Trump pressed Opec to lower prices, and doubts grew about the impact of supply squeezes from Russia and Iran.

Futures in New York fell as much as 4.5 per cent on Friday, wiping away gains from earlier in the week that had followed the US’ vow of tougher sanctions on Iran. Trump, speaking at the White House, said he’d called the producer cartel and demanded it reduce gasoline prices. Reports of readily available replacements for contaminated Russian oil also sapped momentum.

Crude hit a 6-month high this week after the US said it wouldn’t renew waivers, allowing China and other major economies to import 1.4 million Iranian barrels a day. Yet how tight those sanctions will ultimately be remains in question and investors may have been ready for a pullback anyway, with optimistic bets on prices far outweighing pessimistic ones, said Bob Yawger, futures director at Mizuho Securities USA.

West Texas Intermediate for June delivery slid $2.37 to $62.84 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 9:32 pm (IST), in its biggest intraday loss since December 24. The contract was on track for its first weekly loss in two months.

Brent for June settlement was down $2.60, or 3.5 per cent, at $71.75 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, just a day after topping $75. The global benchmark crude was at a premium of $8.91 to WTI on Friday.

US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela have helped push oil prices up this year, along with orchestrated cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and other big producers. That’s started to become apparent for American consumers at the pump, with gasoline futures rising 12 percent in April and up 56 percent this year. They fell as much as 3.2 per cent on Friday.

“The gasoline prices are coming down,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “I called up OPEC and said you’ve gotta bring ‘em down.”

First Published: Sat, April 27 2019. 02:18 IST
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