Oil prices tumbled Thursday, spurred by growing fears of a global oversupply and falls in stock markets around the globe.
U.S. benchmark crude was down nearly 2 percent to $26.94 a barrel at 9:08 a.m. EST. Earlier in the session, it dropped to $26.22 — near its lowest level since late 2003. Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, was down 1.75 percent to $30.30 on London’s ICE Futures exchange.
Oil prices followed losses in the wider financial markets. Stock futures suggested an opening loss for the S&P 500 in New York, while the Stoxx Europe 600 fell as much as 3.9 percent, its lowest level since October 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“Global equities have been a negative price directional driver for the oil complex,” Dominick Chirichella, analyst at the Energy Management Institute, told the Journal Thursday.
At the same time, global crude supplies are continuing to outpace demand, which is expected to soften in 2016 on weaker-than-expected growth in Europe, China and the U.S.
The International Energy Agency this week warned global oil demand growth, which peaked at a five-year high of 1.6 million barrels a day in 2015, was forecast to “ease back considerably” this year to 1.2 million barrels a day. OPEC members Wednesday similarly cut their forecasts for oil demand growth, citing a weaker consumer appetite in recession-saddled Brazil and Russia.
“We’re grinding lower on bearish fundamentals,” Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodity analyst at SEB in Oslo, told Reuters Thursday.
In the U.S., crude stockpiles fell by nearly 800,000 barrels last week, defying analysts’ expectations that inventories would grow by 3.6 million barrels, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday. But total stocks grew for the 11th week out of the last 14 thanks to large additions of petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel. Crude stockpiles in Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery hub for West Texas Intermediate, hit a record 64.7 million barrels last week, the EIA reported.
“There are worries that storage capacity is going to be breached,” Schieldrop told Reuters.