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US crude posts its longest losing streak ever

CNBC logo CNBC 11/12/2018 Tom DiChristopher

Oil prices turned negative amid a sell-off in the U.S stock market Monday, with U.S. crude posting an 11th straight day of losses, its longest longest losing streak on record. 

Crude futures looked set to break the streak earlier on Monday after Saudi energy minister Khalid al Falih said OPEC and its allies may need to cut crude production by about 1 million barrels per day to prevent the market from swinging into oversupply. On Sunday, Falih said the kingdom’s shipments would fall by 500,000 bpd in December.

“The stock market was pulling at the oil complex all day. We should have gotten more of rally at that Saudi commentary over the weekend,” said John Kilduff, founding partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital. 

“It wasn’t a great looking rally after the weekend’s events.”

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude settled 26 cents lower at $59.93 on Monday, falling deeper into bear market territory. The contract has never fallen for 11 straight days since it began trading in New York more than three decades ago. 

Brent crude was up 22 cents at $70.40 a barrel by 2:27 p.m. ET on Monday. The international benchmark for oil prices settled at $70.18 on Friday, its weakest closing price in seven months. 

Crude futures have pulled back sharply during the last five weeks, as oil got swept up in a broader market sell-off that saw investors shed risk assets in October. Rising oil supplies from the United States, OPEC and Russia and forecasts for weaker-than-expected demand growth have kept pressure on the market. 

“It does look like demand is starting to come off a bit,” BP CEO Bob Dudley told CNBC at the ADIPEC oil and gas conference in Abu Dhabi on Monday. 

The world’s appetite for oil now looks set to grow by about 1.3 million bpd, compared with BP’s earlier expectations for 1.4 million to 1.5 million bpd of growth, Dudley said. 

Compounding concerns about demand, the U.S. dollar hit a 16-month peak on Monday. Currency weakness in emerging markets, including India, has significantly increased the cost of crude in those countries. A stronger greenback makes dollar-denominated oil more expensive to holders of other currencies. 

Those factors are now forcing OPEC, Russia and several other exporting nations to consider a fresh round of supply cuts. 

The alliance of roughly two dozen producers has cut its output since January 2017 in order to drain a global crude glut. The group agreed in June to restore some of that production to rein in rising commodity prices. 

However, a committee tasked with monitoring the group’s production agreement concluded on Sunday that oil supplies are growing faster than demand requires, threatening to leave the market oversupplied.The Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee said the current oil market situation “may require new strategies to balance the market,” after warning last month that the group may have to reverse course and begin cutting output once again. 

Falih put a number to the potential scale of cuts on Monday. 

“If all things remain equal, and they almost certainly will not as things will change — it is a dynamic market — then the technical analysis we saw yesterday … tells us that there will need to be a reduction of supply from October levels approaching a million barrels,” Falih told the crowd at ADIPEC on Monday.

Related video: Why this expert believes in OPEC's ability to balance the oil market


President Donald Trump on Monday afternoon sought to dissuade OPEC from taking supply off the market in his latest tweet at the cartel. 

“Hopefully, Saudi Arabia and OPEC will not be cutting oil production. Oil prices should be much lower based on supply!” he wrote on Twitter. 

But Russia, the world’s second biggest producer and an influential voice inside the alliance, is signaling some opposition to supply cuts. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Sunday he wasn’t sure the oil market would be oversupplied next year. He told CNBC crude prices remains volatile. 

“Therefore, right now we shouldn’t be making any hasty decisions,” Novak said. “We need to look at the situation very carefully to see how it will develop so that we don’t end up changing our course by 180 degrees every month.” 

OPEC is scheduled to release its monthly production report on Tuesday, which will detail the group’s October output. In September, the 15-member cartel pumped nearly 32.8 million barrels per day. 

The oil market does not appear to be headed for another bull run, said Daniel Lacalle, chief economist at wealth management firm Tressis Gestion. Lacalle notes that indicators of global economic growth are softening as U.S. production growth ramps up faster than previously anticipated. 

“The forces behind the slowdown in demand are stronger than what we are already discounting in the price, which is that OPEC will do whatever they can do in order to reduce the oversupply,” he told CNBC on Monday. 

The United States recently topped Russia as the world’s biggest oil producer. The country is now producing about 11.6 million barrels per day, more than 10 percent of global demand, according to the latest preliminary weekly figures.


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