Oil fell to a seven-year low yesterday close to the levels hit during the financial crisis amid
Oil fell to a seven-year low yesterday close to the levels hit during the financial crisis amid increased expectations of a persistent oversupply in global crude.
“The year is ending on an uncomfortable note. The smell of fear is back in the air,” said David Hufton at London-based broker PVM.
A further sell-off for corporate debt pointed to deepening anxiety in bond markets ahead of the biggest change to US monetary policy in a decade, tomorrow’s expected rate rise by the Fed.
Investors have begun to focus on rising indebtedness, depressed energy prices, credit rating downgrades and the ability of companies to support debt taken on during six-years of easy credit, once borrowing costs rise.
Brent crude fell $1.60 to $36.33 a barrel yesterday — the lowest in seven years — edging closer to the December 2008 intraday low of $36.20 a barrel. If Brent falls below this, it will hit a level last seen in mid-2004.
The global benchmark, which had been declining for its seventh consecutive session, rebounded in afternoon trading to $38.20 a barrel.
West Texas Intermediate, the US market benchmark, sank $1.09 to $34.53 a barrel — the lowest since February 2009 — before recovering to $36.34 a barrel. WTI traded at $32.40 a barrel in 2008.
Oil prices have tumbled since the meeting of Opec ministers at the start of the month. Brent has plunged as much as 17 per cent while WTI is down 16 per cent. Discord within the group on which members should cut production to shore up the price led to Opec’s continuing to keep on pumping.
The group also scrapped its official production ceiling and took away any pretence of output constraint.
Despite weakening production growth outside Opec, members of the producers’ group have ramped up output in the face of lower oil prices.
Iraq and Saudi Arabia have pumped at record levels this year, while oil market participants are eyeing the appearance of additional barrels from Iran when sanctions linked to its nuclear programme are expected to be lifted next year.
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