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Oil prices fell on Monday after disappointing US factory data sparked fresh concerns about a slowdown in the global economy, but losses were limited as OPEC-led supply cuts and US sanctions against Venezuela brightened the supply outlook. Brent crude futures dropped 15 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $62.60 a barrel by 12:57 pm EST (1757 GMT). US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 78 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $54.48 a barrel.

Weighing on oil markets, US government data showed new orders for US-made goods unexpectedly fell in November, with sharp declines in demand for machinery and electrical equipment. "In a market that's looking for direction, there's concern that any slowdown in the manufacturing sector would slow down demand. Because the number was a little disappointing, it played into the slowing demand scenario," said Phil Flynn, oil analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Prices also dipped after data showed US crude inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for US crude futures, rose by more than 943,000 barrels in the week to Feb. 1, traders said, citing data from market intelligence firm Genscape. Crude futures earlier posted around two-month highs. Brent reached $63.63 a barrel, highest since Dec. 7, while WTI climbed to $55.75 a barrel, strongest since Nov. 21.

Prices have been buoyed by a new round of supply cuts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies that began in January. Russia has been in full compliance with its pledge to gradually cut its oil production, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in a statement on Monday, adding that production decreased by 47,000 barrels per day (bpd) in January from October.

The impact of OPEC+'s supply curbs has been boosted by US sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA. The sanctions will limit oil transactions between Venezuela and other countries and are similar to those imposed on Iran last year, some analysts said after examining details announced by the US government.

"There's no sign of overhang in the crude oil markets," said Olivier Jakob, oil analyst at Petromatrix. OPEC supply fell in January by the largest amount in two years, a Reuters survey last week found. However, while OPEC and its allies are cutting output, the United States has expanded supply, with production most recently totalling 11.9 million bpd.

Market participants are also watching for developments surrounding the US-China trade war, which has dragged on world markets as investors worry that the dispute could contribute to a potential global economic slowdown. US President Donald Trump last week said he would meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in the coming weeks to try to settle the dispute, and there are hopes that the two sides will come to an agreement.

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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