Oil down 10 percent after five-day drop; Goldman says more losses needed

Fri Jan 8, 2016 4:44pm EST
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By Barani Krishnan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil fell for a fifth straight day on Friday, losing 10 percent on the week, and Goldman Sachs said more losses were needed to force producers to cut supplies adequately to balance the glut and bleak demand outlook in the market.

Futures of global oil benchmark Brent and U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude seesawed through the day, settling slightly lower after stock prices on Wall Street gave up their earlier strength. The two benchmarks hit 12-year lows earlier in the week after China's stock market crash roiled global markets.

Since the selloff in oil began 18 months ago, traders and investors have wondered how long and deep the slide would go as prices fell from above $100 a barrel to below $40, and looked poised to break below $30 next.

Goldman, which has said oil could hit $20, said in a note on Friday the market needs to see sustained low prices through the first quarter "so producers will move budgets down to reflect $40 a barrel oil for 2016."

The note, based on interactions between oil producing companies and investors at a Goldman conference in Miami this week, concluded that producers were not ready to slash output at current prices.

"Instead, producers spoke largely of their agility to spend within cash flow and ... ramp up when needed," the Wall Street bank said. "This hurt sentiment as investors came away concerned that companies were not being responsive enough."

The glut has persisted despite a drop in U.S. oil drilling rigs last year - the first annual cut since 2002 and the biggest decline since at least 1988, according to Baker Hughes.

In the first week of 2016, however, energy firms stepped up the rate of idling rigs and the U.S. oil rig count dropped to a five-year low. [RIG/U]   Continued...

An oil pump jack can be seen in Cisco, Texas, August 23, 2015.   REUTERS/Mike Stone