U.S. light crude ended Monday’s session down $1.32, or 2.6 percent, to $49.88, settling below $50 for the first time since October 2017. The contract fell to $49.09 a barrel after the settlement, hitting the lowest level on an intraday basis since Sep. 13, 2017.
Brent crude oil was down 80 cents, or 1.3 percent, at $59.48 per barrel by 2:30 p.m. ET, after earlier rising as high as $61.21.
U.S. crude futures fell after inventories at the storage hub of Cushing, Oklahoma rose by more than 1 million barrels between Dec. 11 and Dec. 14, traders said, citing data from market intelligence firm Genscape.
Traders and market participants closely watch supplies at the hub because it is the delivery point for the futures contract and underpins nearly all other regional crude grades.
“The market is still very nervous about that.”
Both benchmarks fell by about 30 percent through October and November as a supply glut inflated global inventories but have stabilized over the last three weeks, trading within fairly narrow ranges as oil producers have promised to cut production.
Some investors doubt planned supply cuts by OPEC and other producers such as Russia will be enough to rebalance markets.
OPEC and its allies have agreed to reduce output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from January, in a move to be reviewed at a meeting in April.
UAE energy minister Suhail al-Mazrouei told reporters in Dubai on Monday that the global oil market was “correcting” and he expected “everyone” to cut oil supply under the agreement reached earlier this month in Vienna.
But OPEC and its allies have an uphill task. U.S. shale output is growing steadily, taking market share from the big Middle East oil producers in OPEC and making it harder for them to balance their budgets.
Russian oil output has been at a record high of 11.42 million barrels per day in December so far, an industry source familiar with the data told Reuters.
Increasing concerns about weakening growth in major markets such as China and Europe have also dampened the mood in oil and other asset classes.
Chinese oil refinery throughput in November fell from October, suggesting an easing in oil demand, while the country’s industrial output rose the least in nearly three years as the economy continued to lose momentum.
French business activity plunged unexpectedly into contraction this month, retreating at the fastest pace in over four years, while Germany’s private sector expansion slowed to a four-year low in December.
— CNBC’s Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.