Oil prices pared losses on Thursday (Dec 31) but ended 2015 sharply lower as the "black gold" was battered by prolonged global oversupply and a slowdown in energy-hungry China's economy. One change in oil trading has been that WTI flipped to a premium versus Brent this month after the United States lifted a decades-old ban on exporting US crude oil. Plentiful supply of shale oil owing to a shale revolution in the US has dragged down the WTI crude prices significantly below the $100 per barrel threshold since mid-2014. Inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI and the biggest U.S. oil- storage hub, rose by 923,000 barrels last week, the industry- funded API was said to report Tuesday, according to postings on Twitter.
Considerable differences rise only in the HOGR and LP cases, where spreads would widen considerably under current export restrictions.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.66 per cent to 17,603.87, the S&P 500 lost 0.72 per cent at 2,063.36 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.8 per cent to 5,065.85.
Investors will look at USA official crude stockpiles and production data to be released on Wednesday, for more clues into the direction of oil prices.
Front-month U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures settled down 3.35 percent, or $1.27, at $36.60 a barrel.
The downturn has caused pain across the energy supply chain, including shippers, private oil drillers and oil-dependent countries from Venezuela and Russian Federation to the Middle East. Analysts estimate global crude production exceeds demand by anywhere between half a million and 2 million barrels every day.
Crude futures slumped in Asian trading as Japanese data showed a 46-year low in oil sales in the world's fourth largest crude buyer.
Prices then attempted to rally but tanked Monday on downbeat Chinese and Japanese data, alongside a Saudi budget plan that suggested the petroleum-exporting giant was planning for oil prices to stay low.
Ali al-Naimi, oil minister of OPEC leader Saudi Arabia, said the kingdom will not limit production, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Since the mid-2014, the crude prices kept plunging by two-thirds as increased output from the OPEC member countries, Russian Federation and the U.
"There is a long way to go before global supply and demand rebalancing occurs", Angus Nicholson, a market analyst at IG in Melbourne, said by phone.