NEW YORK: Oil prices fell nearly 1 percent on Friday as global supply increased and investors worried demand growth could slow, pressuring U.S. crude to its longest stretch of daily declines since 1984.
Crude futures benchmarks have slid about 20 percent or more since peaking in early October.
Benchmark Brent crude futures fell 47 cents, or 0.7 percent, to settle at $70.18 a barrel. During the session, Brent fell below $70 a barrel for the first time since April, as much as 20 percent off four-year highs reached in October.
Brent slumped about 3.6 percent for the week and more than 15 percent this quarter.
U.S. crude fell for the 10th straight day, the longest such streak since July 1984, according to Refinitiv data.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures declined 48 cents, or 0.8 percent, to settle at $60.19 a barrel. The session low was an eight-month bottom at $59.26, down more than 22 percent from its October peak. That decline puts U.S. crude in “bear market” territory using a stock market definition.
Hedge funds cut bullish wagers on U.S. crude in the latest week to the lowest level in more than a year, data showed, while speculators slashed bullish bets on Brent crude to the lowest since July 2017.
Demand worries followed forecasts for slower economic growth in 2019, largely due to a U.S.-China trade war.
On Friday, Chinese data showed producer inflation fell in October for the fourth straight month on cooling domestic demand and manufacturing activity. The report sent global stocks into a tailspin.
Oil peaked in early October on the view that U.S. sanctions on Iran that came into force this week would drain global crude inventories and bring shortages in some regions.
But other big producers have more than compensated for lost Iranian barrels. The United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia are pumping at or near record highs, producing more than 33 million barrels per day (bpd), a third of the world’s oil.
U.S. energy firms added oil rigs for a fourth week in the last five, bringing the total count to 886, the highest since March 2015, data showed on Friday.
Also, U.S. sanctions on Iran are unlikely to cut supply as much as expected. Washington has granted exemptions to Iran’s biggest buyers.
A South Korean delegation including oil buyers is expected to head to Iran next week to discuss resuming oil imports after a three-month halt, sources told Reuters.
China National Petroleum Corp said it was still taking oil from Iranian fields in which it has stakes.
Inventories in Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for U.S. crude futures, have risen for seven straight weeks.