Oil prices remain steady ahead of New Year

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-30 02:32:09|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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HOUSTON, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- Oil prices went down slightly during the week ending Dec. 28, with the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for February delivery decreasing 0.57 percent and Brent crude for February delivery down 3.01 percent.

In the previous week ending Dec. 21, oil prices decreased sharply. WTI decreased 11.0 percent, and Brent crude decreased 10.7 percent. At the end of the week, WTI settled at 45.59 U.S. dollars a barrel, while Brent crude closed at 53.82 dollars a barrel.

On Monday, oil prices extended losses, sinking further to their lowest levels in a year and half and in tandem with the U.S. equities market, as investor sentiment was dented by the turmoil in Washington amid uncertainties. WTI fell 3.06 dollars to settle at 42.53 dollars a barrel, while Brent crude fell 3.35 dollars to close at 50.47 dollars a barrel.

U.S. stocks sank on Monday, with all three major indices erasing more than 2 percent at the close.

Multiple reports said U.S. President Donald Trump was discussing to remove Jerome Powell from his position as chairman of the Federal Reserve after the central bank announced recently to hike the interest rate for the fourth time this year. The situation was more complicated when Trump on Monday criticized the U.S. central bank on Twitter.

On Wednesday, oil prices surged, erasing sharp losses on Christmas Eve following equity markets' strong rebound from one-and-a-half year low. WTI rose 3.69 dollars to settle at 46.22 dollars a barrel, while Brent crude increased 4 dollars to close at 54.47 dollars a barrel.

Crude oil has been caught up in global financial market volatility recently, especially as the U.S. equities plunged on possible economic slowdown and rapid interest rate hikes.

On Thursday, oil prices retreated, erasing gains in the previous session as concerns over global supply glut and faltering global economy lingered. WTI declined 1.61 dollars to settle at 44.61 dollars a barrel, while Brent crude decreased 2.31 dollars to close at 52.16 dollars a barrel.

The global oil market is still grappling with rising stockpiles, despite a daily 1.2 million-barrel output cut deal between OPEC and its allies, which is set to come into force since January next year.

Currently, the United States pumps 11.6 million barrels per day, surpassing Saudi Arabia and Russia to be the world's largest oil producer.

On Friday, oil prices advanced after a week of volatile trading, but still hovering at the bottom level in more than a year. WTI gained 0.72 dollar to settle at 45.33 dollars a barrel, while Brent crude increased 0.04 dollar to close at 52.20 dollars a barrel.

Analysts said without any changes on fundamentals, crude price volatility was likely triggered by U.S. stocks market that had been on a rollercoaster ride for more than a week.

For the following weeks, concerns over slowing global economic growth have dampened investor sentiment in riskier asset classes and pressured crude futures.

Meanwhile, the number of active drilling rigs in the United States increased by three to 1,083 for the week ending Dec. 28.

Oil market watchers have been closely monitoring the situation as growth in U.S. crude stockpiles and ongoing concerns about the global economy kept the energy market under pressure.

In the meantime, the market will wait to see the impacts of the daily 1.2-million-barrel output cut deal between OPEC and its allies, which will start in January.