NEW YORK, March 29 (UPI) -- Concerns about U.S. monetary policy moves and ongoing supply-side strains sent crude oil prices plummeting in early trading Tuesday.
Industry data show U.S. stockpiles of crude oil remain at 80-year highs despite signs of a slowdown in domestic crude oil production. A recent drilling survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows most inland shale oil reserve areas should post production declines in April as companies pull back in response to lower crude oil prices.
The supply build comes as Russia and members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries rally around a planned April meeting in Doha aimed at freezing production at January levels. Assessment of the freeze finds producers are already producing at record levels, suggesting the market reaction would be muted.
Brent crude oil prices moved sharply lower at the start of trading Tuesday, falling 2.8 percent to $39.14 per barrel after two trading days softened by the Easter holiday. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of crude oil, lost 3 percent to open in New York at $38.21 per barrel.
U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is expected to deliver a speech late Tuesday that could give market investors clues about the pace of the U.S. economy and future movements on interest rates.
Yellen said last week she was somewhat optimistic about the pace of growth for the U.S. economy, but said a soft pace of advancements overseas could throttle any substantial forward momentum. In early March, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said declines in oil prices have reached deep into the U.S. economy into the manufacturing and equipment sectors.
Keith Phillips, the assistant vice president for the Dallas Federal Reserve, said the state economy was diverse enough to endure the low prices of oil, though key state metrics continued to suggest "weakness in the Texas economy going forward."