February 4, 2019 / 1:32 AM / 3 months ago

Oil slides on disappointing U.S. data after hitting two-month high

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices fell on Monday after disappointing U.S. factory data sparked fresh concerns about a slowdown in the global economy, but losses were limited as OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against Venezuela pointed to tighter supply.

An oil pumpjack and a tank with the corporate logo of state oil company PDVSA are seen in an oil facility in Lagunillas, Venezuela January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Isaac Urrutia

Brent crude futures dropped 24 cents, or 0.38 percent, to settle at $62.51 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 70 cents, or 1.27 percent, to settle at $54.56 a barrel.

Weighing on oil markets, U.S. government data showed new orders for U.S.-made goods unexpectedly fell in November, with sharp declines in demand for machinery and electrical equipment.

“In a market that’s looking for direction, there’s concern that any slowdown in the manufacturing sector would slow down demand. Because the number was a little disappointing, it played into the slowing demand scenario,” said Phil Flynn, oil analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Prices also dipped after data showed U.S. crude inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for U.S. crude futures, rose by more than 943,000 barrels in the week to Feb. 1, traders said, citing data from market intelligence firm Genscape.

Crude futures earlier posted around two-month highs. Brent reached $63.63 a barrel, the highest since Dec. 7, while WTI climbed to $55.75 a barrel, the strongest since Nov. 21.

Prices have been buoyed by a new round of supply cuts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies that began in January. OPEC supply fell last month by the largest amount in two years, a Reuters survey last week found.

Russia has been in full compliance with its pledge to gradually cut its oil production, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in a statement on Monday, adding that production decreased by 47,000 barrels per day (bpd) in January from October.

The impact of OPEC+’s supply curbs has been boosted by U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA. The sanctions will limit oil transactions between Venezuela and other countries and are similar to those imposed on Iran last year, some analysts said after examining details announced by the U.S. government.

The European Union is considering imposing more sanctions on the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro but has not discussed an oil embargo, Malta’s foreign minister said on Monday.

However, while OPEC is cutting output, the United States has expanded supply, with production most recently totaling 11.9 million bpd.

GRAPHIC: U.S. oil production & drilling levels - tmsnrt.rs/2Tm4u4I

Market participants are also watching for developments surrounding the U.S.-China trade war, which has dragged on world markets as investors worry that the dispute could contribute to a potential global economic slowdown.

“The market seems to be turning on renewed worries that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of progress on the U.S.-China trade talks,” said Gene McGillian, director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

U.S. President Donald Trump last week said he would meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in the coming weeks to try to settle the dispute.

Additional reporting by Alex Lawler and Noah Browning in London and Henning Gloystein in Singapore; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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