Oil dropped below $30 a barrel in New York before government data forecast to show U.S. crude stockpiles expanded, exacerbating a global glut. Gasoline tumbled to a seven-year low.
Crude fell 5.5 percent, adding to Monday’s 6 percent slump. Supplies probably rose by 4 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg survey before an Energy Information Administration report Wednesday. The Russian leg of Venezuelan Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino’s tour to persuade oil exporters to cut output gained little more than pledges for further discussion. BP Plc posted a 91 percent decreasein fourth-quarter earnings, while Exxon Mobil Corp.’s fell 58 percent.
Oil has lost 19 percent this year amid volatility in global markets, brimming U.S. crude supplies and the outlook for increased exports from Iran after the removal of international sanctions. Royal Dutch Shell Plc had its debt rating cut to the lowest since Standard & Poor’s began coverage in 1990. Chevron Corp. and Hess Corp. were among the U.S. oil companies that had their rating trimmed by S&P Tuesday.
West Texas Intermediate for March delivery fell $1.74 to settle at $29.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It’s the lowest close since Jan. 21. The volume of all futures traded was 47 percent above the 100-day average.
Brent for April settlement dropped $1.52, or 4.4 percent, to end the session at $32.72 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark crude closed at an $1.11 premium to April WTI.