Crude sank the most in more than four months, dragging down shares of oil and gas producers to the lowest in almost seven years.
Futures fell as much as 8 percent to the lowest since May 2003. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, the first global major oil company to report fourth-quarter earnings, said Wednesday it expects profit to drop at least 42 percent. Markets could “drown in oversupply,” sending prices even lower as oil demand growth slows and Iran boosts exports, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.
West Texas Intermediate for February delivery, which expires Wednesday, fell $2.20 to $26.26 a barrel at 1:37 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The more-active March future slid $1.76 to $27.81. Total volume traded was 38 percent higher than the 100-day average.
Brent for March settlement slipped $1.33, or 4.6 percent, to $27.43 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract traded at a 41-cent discount to WTI for the same month.