MOSCOW (MRC) -- Crude oil slid
lower on signs that the United States is continuing to add output, largely
counteracting strong economic growth in China and OPEC efforts to cut
production, said Reuters.
Brent crude futures were down 50 cents at USD55.39 at 1126 GMT. On Thursday,
before major markets closed for a holiday break, they settled up 3 cents at
USD55.89 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 47
cents at USD52.71 a barrel, after rising 7 cents to USD53.18 on.
benchmarks had risen last week for a third consecutive week, with Brent adding
1.2% over the four days before the Good Friday holiday and WTI up 1.8%. While
trading was subdued, the focus was on indications that shale oil output in the
United States was pushing higher.
"All the signs of an ever-growing bull
market are starting to fade away, (with) Libya and geo-political tensions
easing, but also because the Texans are back and they are pumping like there's
no tomorrow," said Matt Stanley, a fuel broker at Freight Investor Services
(FIS) in Dubai. "If I were OPEC, I'd be pretty worried."
failure of a ballistic missile launch in North Korea brought some respite,
markets were braced for further tensions in the region.
fighting between rival factions has cut oil output, but state oil company NOC
was able to reopen at least one field and was pushing to reopen another. US
drillers last week added rigs for a 13th straight week, bringing it to its
highest in roughly two years. Investors are also pouring money into the
industry, suggesting US output gains will continue.
Increasing US output
is undermining attempts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
and other major oil producers to curb output and sustain a price rally in a
market that has been oversupplied since mid-2014.
While Iran fueled hopes
that OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers could extend their output cuts beyond the
six-month agreement, Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said it was too early
to discuss an extension. US crude oil production reached 9.24 MMbpd, according
to the latest Energy Information Administration data, making it the world's
third-largest producer after Russia and Saudi Arabia.
production largely counteracted figures showing first quarter economic growth of
6.9% in China. Forecast-beating March investment, retail sales and exports all
suggested China's economy, the world's second-largest oil consumer, may carry
solid momentum into spring.
China's March refinery throughput also rose
to 11.19 MMbpd, just shy of December's record, as margins remained