Oil slides despite OPEC talk of a floor

Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:24pm EST
 
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By Samantha Sunne and Barani Krishnan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil fell in see-saw trade on Monday, with U.S. crude ending at its lowest in nearly six years, as traders discounted comments from OPEC's top official about the market finally finding a bottom.

It was an up-and-down session for crude, which gyrated along with the U.S. dollar in the wake of a decisive Greek election victory by the left-wing Syriza party.

Prices initially rallied after OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri said oil may have hit a floor and could move higher very soon, the first comments he has made on the subject during crude's seven-month-long price rout.

But the gains proved fleeting as global benchmark Brent LCOc1 fell 1.3 percent to $48.16. U.S. crude CLc1 lost almost 1 percent, settling at $45.15, the lowest settlement price for the existing front-month contract.

Following the restart of a major U.S. Midwest refinery unit, the Brent/WTI spread narrowed to $3.01 after going as wide as $3.41 on Friday, its widest in three weeks.

Volume was muted by a major snowstorm in the U.S. Northeast, which some traders said would likely have a mixed effect on fundamentals. Just over 520,000 lots of WTI were traded, about a third less than normal.

The blizzard will result in canceled flights, less driving and increased use of heating oil, creating mixed indicators for crude oil, Matt Smith, an analyst at Schneider Electric, said.

"We saw this with Hurricane Sandy," Smith said.   Continued...

 
A man fills up his car at a petrol station in Rome January 6, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi