Crude oil slump continues

Brent crude oil off roughly 4 percent from midweek spike above $50 per barrel.

By Daniel J. Graeber

NEW YORK, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Data showing a continued slowdown in the upstream side of the energy sector pushed crude oil prices well below their midweek peaks in early Friday trading.

Oil prices started the week trending lower after Russia reported a steep rise in crude oil production from last year. Crude oil prices surged in Tuesday trading as labor strikes gripped much of the Brazilian oil sector, though the rally fizzled late in the week amid signs markets still favored the supply side.


Crude oil prices have moved consistently lower as weak economic growth balances against an increase in production, largely from U.S. shale oil basins. That's left energy companies with less capital to invest in exploration and production, a trend reflected in monthly counts of active drilling rigs.

Oil field services company Baker Hughes reported a U.S. rig count for October of 791, down nearly 7 percent from September and nearly 60 percent lower year-on-year. Globally, the October rig count of 2,086 was 4 percent lower than September and 43 percent lower year-on-year.

The price for Brent crude oil edged lower by about 0.5 percent in early Friday trading to $47.76 per barrel, down about 0.2 percent from the start of the week but more than 4 percent lower than midweek peaks about the $50 per barrel mark.


West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for crude oil, was down 1.2 percent in early trading to $44.62 per barrel, down more than 3 percent from the start of the week.

Crude oil prices faced pressure from key economic sentiments expressed Friday. Yves Mersch, a member of the executive board at the European Central Bank, said European financial strength was waning.

"The future for the European banking sector is currently characterized by some uncertainty," he said. "European banks are coming out of the crisis facing disruptive forces from all sides."

The ECB kept its interest rates unchanged last month, saying that while low oil prices are a de facto stimulus for consumers, other metrics suggest downside risks remain for growth and inflation.

The United States showed resiliency, however, with the Labor Department showing an increase in non-farm payrolls of 271,000 for October, ending two months of weak growth with the largest gain since December.

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