Singapore: World oil prices continued to fall in Asian trade Thursday, with more volatility expected as investors continue to assess the US economy, dealers said.
In early morning trade, New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for May fell 60 cents to $101.94 per barrel from its close of $102.54 during floor trading in the US Wednesday.
The April contract had expired Wednesday at $104.48 a barrel, after plummeting $4.94. The contract had hit a record peak of $111.80 on Monday.
London’s Brent North Sea crude for May dropped 60 cents to $100.12 a barrel, after settling at $100.72 on Wednesday.
The commodities market is in a situation where “investor sentiment is potentially shifting” as they reassess the outlook for the US economy, said David Moore, a commodity strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney.
“The market has been extremely volatile over the last week, and it is very difficult to say with any confidence when prices could bottom or turn around,” said Moore.
Traders continued to focus on the global credit squeeze amid concerns over the impact it might have on global economic growth and oil demand, and largely overlooked the headline US energy inventory data showing a smaller-than-expected rise in crude supplies.
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said crude stocks rose by just 200,000 barrels to 311.8 million barrels in the week ended 14 March, about average for this time of the year. Markets were expecting stocks to rise by around 2.3 million barrels.
The EIA also reported a decline in crude imports and much lower-than-expected crude demand in the form of falling refinery runs.
It also reported unexpectedly large declines in both gasoline and distillate supplies.