Oil declined to the lowest level in almost six years as data showed U.S. crude inventories in December surged to the highest level for the month since 1930, adding to signs a global supply glut may persist.
Futures slid as much as 2.7 percent in New York and 1.9 percent in London. Crude stockpiles in the U.S., the world™s biggest oil consumer, rose 7.4 percent from last year to end December at 383.5 million barrels, the American Petroleum Institute said in a monthly report. Saudi Arabian King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, who took over after the death of King Abdullah, said he will maintain the policies of his predecessor in a speech on Saudi national television.
Crude slumped almost 50 percent last year as the U.S. pumped oil at the fastest rate in more than three decades while the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries sought to defend market share and resisted calls to cut supply. Producers outside of OPEC will boost output this year at a slower rate than previously forecast, according to a monthly report from the International Energy Agency.
West Texas Intermediate for March delivery fell as much as $1.24 to $44.35 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $44.78 at 9:11 a.m. Seoul time. It dropped 1.6 percent to $45.59 on Jan. 23. Volume of all futures traded was about 163 percent above the 100-day average. Prices slid 6.4 percent last week.
Brent for March settlement slid as much as 94 cents to $47.85 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. It gained 0.6 percent to $48.79 a barrel on Jan. 23. The European benchmark crude was at a premium of $3.41 to WTI, compared to $3.20 at the end of last week.