Crude oil prices plunged under $50 a barrel on Monday in U.S. trading or the first time since April 2009. Energy traders say the decline in oil relates to worries that the market will remain oversupplied over the next few quarters.
Booming oil production, both in the U.S. and internationally, coupled with weak demand growth have sent oil crude oil prices plummeting in the second half of 2014, so say “experts”. Lower oil prices have been a boon to consumers and many businesses, but oil-exporting nations are suffering as prices are off more than 50% from their 12-month highs. Oil firms and companies in related businesses are seeing their stock share prices tumble.
Light, sweet Brent Crude for February delivery traded as low as $49.95 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange late Monday morning.
Statements from analysts
“When it rains, it pours,” noted Chip Hodge, senior managing director at John Hancock Financial Services, which manages nearly $7 billion in energy-related investments. “It just seems that you get bad news on top of bad news” for oil prices, he said.
Oil prices continued their downward spiral into the first day of trading in 2015 on reports that Russian oil output has hit post-Soviet records, and Iraqi oil exports have reached their highest since the 1980s.
“We already have an ample supply of oil and on top of that we see this increase from Iraq and Russia,” pointed out Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets. “The momentum clearly continues to be bearish for oil.”
Moreover, Citigroup decreased its average Brent forecast for 2015 to $63 from $80 a barrel, and its average WTI projection to $55 from $72 a barrel, in a research report titled “Oil and Trouble Ahead in 2015″ published on Sunday.
Strong dollar adding to crude oil prices woes
The strength of the dollar is another significant factor weighing on oil prices. The dollar is currently at several year highs against most other major currencies, which is worsening the slump in oil. Nearly all oil is traded in U.S. dollars, so a stronger dollar makes oil more expensive for non U.S. buyers.