Oil hits five-year low in longest losing streak since 2008

by Ron Bousso and Ahmed Aboulenein
Mon Dec 1, 2014 9:41am GMT

(Reuters) – Brent crude oil fell more than $2 a barrel to a five-year low below $68 on Monday as investors looked for a price floor after last week’s OPEC decision not to cut production.

Both U.S. crude and Brent have fallen for five straight months, oil’s longest losing streak since the 2008 financial crisis.

“The market is still very much in panic mode,” said Energy Aspects’ chief oil analyst Amrita Sen. “Once we get over the panic, Brent prices will probably stabilise at around $65-80 a barrel in the short term.”

Saudi Arabia, the most influential member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries last week blocked moves by some smaller producers to curb oil output in response to huge oversupply in world markets.

Brent hit a low of $67.53 a barrel, the lowest since October 2009, and was down $1.42 at $68.73 a barrel by 9.21 a.m. . U.S. crude fell $1.45 to $64.70 a barrel, having slipped to an intraday low of $63.72, the lowest since July 2009.

Oil lost more than 12 percent after OPEC’s decision last Thursday.

“The market is still looking for a new equilibrium below $70 (a barrel), which is a little surprising given that with the current prices much of the shale oil production in the U.S., or part of it, will be unprofitable,” Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said, pointing to the potential impact on investment in shale oil in the United States.

With oil prices losing about 40 percent since June, the impact is felt around the world as oil-producers from Iraq to Nigeria are revising 2015 budgets to reflect lower prices.

Iran refrained from protesting against OPEC’s decision to retain its production ceiling to maintain group solidarity, even though the move will not benefit all members, Iran’s oil minister said in local media reports.

Slower than expected growth in China’s manufacturing sector may add further downward pressure on oil. China’s official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) slipped to 50.3 in November, a government study showed on Monday, lower than analyst forecasts of 50.6.

“In the fourth quarter, oil markets have lost the support of both the invisible hand of the U.S. Fed and OPEC,” Petromatrix analyst Olivier Jakob said, referring to the Federal Reserve’s move to phase out monetary stimulus for the U.S. economy.

(Additional reporting by Florence Tan in Singapore; Editing by David Goodman)

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