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Oil falls from 4-year highs; Wall Street weighs
[NEW YORK] Oil prices fell on Thursday as the prospect of increased crude production from Saudi Arabia and Russia prompted profit-taking the day after futures hit four-year highs on a boost from imminent US sanctions on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (Opec) No. 3 producer Iran.
Brent crude futures fell US$1.71, or 1.98 per cent, to settle at US$84.58 a barrel. On Wednesday, Brent rose to a late 2014 high of US$86.74. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell US$2.08 to settle at US$74.33 a barrel, a 2.72 per cent loss.
Market participants took profits after Brent on Wednesday climbed to the most technically overbought level since Feb 2012. WTI was the most overbought since January. The relative strength index (RSI) for both Brent and US crude rose this week to above 70, a level often regarded as signaling a market that has risen too far. On Thursday, both contracts' RSI retreated to below 70.
Weighing on oil prices, US stock market indexes broadly fell, with the benchmark S&P 500 on pace for its biggest one-day drop since late June. Crude futures at times track with equity markets. Also pressuring oil prices, crude inventories at the US hub of Cushing, Oklahoma, rose about 1.7 million barrels from Sept 28 to Tuesday, traders said, citing a report from market intelligence firm Genscape.
"Today's pullback appeared heavily influenced by the sharp decline in the equities and looked like a deserved correction given the magnitude of the recent upside price acceleration," Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note.
Oil prices have risen as the market braces for sanctions on Iran that kick in on Nov 4. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Thursday that Opec was able to raise output by 1.3 million barrel per day, but offered no signal that the producer group would do so. The kingdom plans to invest US$20 billion to maintain and possibly expand its spare oil production capacity, and currently has a maximum sustainable capacity of 12 million bpd.
Reuters reported on Wednesday that Russia and Saudi Arabia struck a private deal in September to raise output.
HIGH PRICES START TO WEIGH ON ECONOMIES, DEMAND
Rising oil prices and global trade worries are pressuring emerging economies, International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol told Reuters. India faces an "economic crisis" due to its huge oil imports, two local TV channels cited Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari as saying. India also has been hurt by a slide in the rupee against the dollar. A strong dollar makes dollar-denominated oil more expensive for buyers using other currencies.
"We have argued recently that reaching the US$100 market would be a tall order," PVM Oil Associates strategist Tamas Varga said. "About the end of November, we will have a good idea as how many barrels will be lost due to the launch of the second round of the Iranian sanctions. By that time all the bullish news will be in the market."