West Texas Intermediate oil fell below $50 a barrel for the first time since April 2009 as surging supply signaled that the global glut that drove crude into a bear market will persist.
Futures slid as much as 5.2 percent in New York. Brent futures earlier slid below $55 in London for the first time since May 2009. Russia™s output rose to a post-Soviet high in December, preliminary Energy Ministry data showed. Iraq, the second-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, plans to boost crude exports to a record this month, the Oil Ministry said.
Brent slumped 48 percent last year, the most since the 2008 financial crisis, as OPEC resisted calls to cut output amid a battle with U.S. shale producers for market share. The 12-member group pumped above its target for a seventh straight month in December, according to a Bloomberg survey.
West Texas Intermediate for February delivery dropped $2.48, or 4.7 percent, to $50.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 11:33 a.m. local time. It slipped to $49.95, the lowest level since April 29, 2009. Volume for all futures traded was 4.8 percent above the 100-day average. The U.S. benchmark grade traded at a $3.04 discount to Brent.