Crude falls to 3-week low over stimulus concerns

LONDON - Oil fell to a three-week low towards $114 a barrel on Thursday on concern the US Federal Reserve might end its stimulus programme sooner than thought and on the prospect of a rise in Saudi Arabian output.

By Alex Lawler (Reuters)

Published: Fri 22 Feb 2013, 9:56 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 7:51 AM

The drop extended Brent crude’s largest one-day drop in 2013 on Wednesday, alongside declines in other commodities and equities. Rumours that a hedge fund was liquidating positions also had helped pressure prices, although there was no evidence of liquidation by any specific fund.

Brent crude fell as low as $114.30, the lowest intra-day price since January 31, and as of 1022GMT was down 92 cents at $114.68 a barrel. US crude slipped $1.06 to $94.16.

“We have reached a price level where demand destruction is to be expected and government intervention feared,” said Olivier Jakob, an analyst at Petromatrix. “Brent had been losing its positive momentum, and yesterday’s move is an acceleration of that.”

Since mid-December, hedge funds and other large speculators have nearly doubled their bets that oil prices will rise, amassing positions in Brent and US crude futures and options equivalent to around 440 million barrels of oil, regulatory and exchange data show.

The price of Brent rose by $10 a barrel in the first six weeks of 2013 to hit a nine-month high above $119 on February 8 as signs of strong demand from China and lower Saudi supply raised expectations of a tighter market.

“Brent was overbought amid overwhelming investor interest, an increased geopolitical premium and bullish macro sentiment, while short-term fundamentals simply do not justify sustained gains past $120,” said Andrey Kryuchenkov, an analyst at VTB Capital in London.

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