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Oil prices see quickest 50% drop from top in 8 years
30 december 2014


Refining towers at the Zawiya oil refinery near Tripoli.

Crude-oil futures have now plunged 50% from their 2014 high, as prices swung lower again on Monday.

The pace of the slide, to the lowest settlement in nearly six years, is the fastest in about 8 years.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in February CLG5, -0.35% fell $1.12, or 2%, to settle at $53.61 a barrel, after an early rally on reports of a fire affecting oil-storage terminals in Libya collapsed. That’s the lowest settlement since May 1, 2009. Earlier, the February contract traded as high as $55.74, or 1.8% higher than Friday’s settlement.

Nymex crude lost 4.2% last week, marking a fifth consecutive week of declines. Monday’s fall is the third consecutive loss, totaling a 6.1% slide.

Overall, oil prices have now plunged 50% from their 2014 settlement high, set on June 20. It has taken just 132 trading days for that to happen, the fastest 50% drop in the front-month contract since 2008. That has only happened faster twice in the past 30 years, in 1985-1986 and in 1990-1991.

For its part, Brent crude for February delivery LCOG5, -0.36% fell $1.57, or 2.6% to $57.88 a barrel.

The lack of follow-through from the bump in prices from the oil fires in Libya is indicative of the bearishness that has established itself in oil markets, said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “They didn’t burn enough oil,” Flynn said. “That’s the mind set.”

Flynn said even with prolonged violence in Libya, there are many OPEC producers that could fill the void, and reports of oil going into storage that could come on the market later.

“It’s all cementing bearish momentum in the short term,” Flynn said.

Similarly, gasoline futures swung to a loss. Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock for January RBF5, +0.02% — the benchmark gasoline contract — fell 5.5 cents, or 3.7%, to settle at $1.45 a gallon.


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Oil prices see quickest 50% drop from top in 8 years

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