Oil Hits 3-Month Low as U.S. Crude Reserves Swell
By Timothy Puko
Oil prices extended losses Thursday, hitting a three-month low a day after a larger-than-expected buildup in U.S. crude inventories raised doubts over whether OPEC cuts will be enough to sap brimming stores of oil around the world.
The U.S. benchmark settled below $50 a barrel for the first time since Dec. 7.
Two days of a sharp selloff have broken the calmest period for oil prices in more than two years. Oil had been trading in a $4 range for about three months until Wednesday. And as it broke from that range, oil began retaking its spot at the center of the market, impacting stocks and bonds in addition to commodity futures.
U.S. crude for April delivery settled down $1, or 2%, to $49.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday reported an 8.2-million-barrel increase in domestic crude supplies, the ninth consecutive weekly climb, lifting total commercial inventories to a record weekly level of 528.4 million barrels. Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast an inventory increase of 1.7 million barrels.