Oil Trades Near 5-Year Low Amid Manufacturing Weakness

(Bloomberg) — Oil traded near its lowest closing price since mid-2009 amid signs of manufacturing weakness in Europe and China.

Futures headed for a sixth weekly loss in New York and London. Euro-area manufacturing expanded less than initially estimated in December as growth rates for output, new orders and employment remained near stagnation. The bloc’s currency weakened to a 4 1/2-year low against the dollar. A manufacturing gauge in China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer, fell to the weakest level in 18 months, government data showed yesterday.

“China PMI was more of the same while we are seeing weaker than expected PMI in Europe,” Ole Sloth Hansen, an analyst at Saxo Bank A/S in Copenhagen, said by e-mail. “This adds to the support for the dollar. So we are kicking off 2015 with a strong dollar and weak oil theme.”

Oil slumped 46 percent in New York in 2014, the steepest drop in six years and second-worst since trading began in 1983, as U.S. producers and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries ceded no ground in their battle for market share. OPEC pumped above its quota for a seventh month in December even as U.S. output expanded to the highest in more than three decades, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

West Texas Intermediate for February delivery traded 33 cents higher at $53.60 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 10:20 a.m. London time. It earlier gained as much as $1.84, or 3.5 percent, to $55.11 a barrel. The contract dropped to $53.27 on Dec. 31, the lowest settlement since May 2009. Prices are down 2.1 percent this week.

Europe PMI

Brent for February settlement climbed 31 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $57.64 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, having earlier reached $58.54. The European benchmark crude slumped 48 percent last year, the second-biggest annual loss on record behind a 51 percent tumble in the 2008 financial crisis. It traded at a premium of $4.01 to WTI today.

A final reading of a Purchasing Managers’ Index for the euro area’s manufacturing industry stood at 50.6 in December, London-based Markit Economics said today. The euro lost 0.5 percent to 1.2049 per dollar at 9:10 a.m. in London. A stronger dollar typically undermines the appeal of commodities for protecting against inflation.

Libya Fire

The final two burning crude-storage tanks were extinguished at Libya’s biggest oil port, Es Sider, National Oil Corp. spokesman Mohammed Elharari said by phone from Tripoli. The fires started Dec. 25, when Islamist militants opposed to the country’s government shot rockets at the port in a second attempt to capture it.

In China, the official Purchasing Managers’ Index dropped to 50.1 in December from 50.3 the previous month, according to data from the statistics bureau and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing. A separate manufacturing reading from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics on Dec. 31 also fell.

WTI pared earlier gains as Enbridge Inc., a pipeline operator that runs several lines across the U.S. and Canada, restarted its North Dakota system after a fire at a truck- loading facility, according to a company spokesman.

The blaze began yesterday at the facility that was leased to its unit, Tidal Energy Marketing, Michael Barnes, a spokesman for Calgary-based Enbridge, said by phone. Eight out of 12 crude-storage tanks, with a capacity of 400 barrels each, caught fire at the site, according to Karolin Rockvoy, a manager at the Emergency Management Services for McKenzie County, North Dakota.

OPEC Production

U.S. oil production averaged 9.12 million barrels a day in the week ended Dec. 26, according to the Energy Information Administration. Output increased to 9.14 million a day through Dec. 12, the most in weekly data that started in January 1983.

OPEC’s production slid by 122,000 barrels a day from November to 30.24 million last month, led by losses in Saudi Arabia, Libya and the United Arab Emirates, a separate Bloomberg survey of companies, producers and analysts shows. The 12-member group, which supplies about 40 percent of the world’s crude, has a collective target of 30 million a day.

Iraq exported 2.94 million barrels a day of crude in December, the most since the 1980s, Oil Ministry spokesman Asim Jihad, said today by text message.

Russian oil production rose to a post-Soviet record of 10.667 million barrels a day last month, according to preliminary data today e-mailed today by CDU-TEK, part of the Energy Ministry.

“If we do see some supply-side responses, or even if they’re anticipated over the course of this first quarter of the year, we might find that oil has in fact bottomed,” Michael McCarthy, a chief strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, said by phone. “We’re now clearly in a consolidation zone and it’s not clear which way crude will break from the current levels.”

WTI may decline next week, another Bloomberg survey shows. Eighteen of 32 analysts and traders, or 56 percent, predicted futures may decrease through Jan. 9 while eight respondents forecast prices will climb.

(c) 2015 Bloomberg.