Oil falls sharply with broader markets as renewed restrictions on movement in Europe clouded the outlook for the
consumption once again.
Crude futures in New York fall 4.6%, while those in London retreated below $40 a barrel, the lowest since October 5. Germany is proposing widespread curbs for a month, while France is preparing tougher restrictions that may include a lockdown in the latest round of measures to limit the spread of Covid-19. That weighed on European and US equity markets, while the dollar was stronger, souring oil market sentiment.
Adding to the gloom, the American Petroleum Institute reported crude inventories expanded by 4.58 million barrels last week, while gasoline stockpiles rise for a second straight week.
Crude has come under renewed pressure as the virus leads to a more fragile demand outlook, and the head of Saudi Aramco’s trading unit said traders are cautious given the uncertainty in consumption. The market is also facing rising supply from Libya, which is eroding some of the stock draws that were expected in the fourth quarter.
“With hefty stock builds across the board in the headline API numbers, it is not all that surprising the oil price is moving lower this morning,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, oil strategist at BNP Paribas SA. “With equities lower and a stronger dollar reflecting a retreat in risk appetite, oil also came under pressure.”
US gasoline inventories expanded by 2.25 million barrels last week, while crude supplies at the key storage hub of Cushing climbed by 136,000 barrels, according to the API. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey forecast nationwide crude stockpiles increased by 1.5 million barrels.
The oil market’s structure has also weakened markedly in recent days. Brent’s nearest futures contract is at its biggest discount to the next month in about two weeks, as concerns about the market’s health in the near-term grow.