Crude oil futures tumbled towards six-year lows on Friday, amid indications that the sharp decline in U.S. drilling in recent months may be nearing an end, raising concerns that shale production could rebound and add to a supply glut.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for delivery in September hit an intraday low of $43.70 a barrel, a level not seen since January 29, before ending at $43.87, down 79 cents, or 1.77% on the day.
For the week, New York-traded oil futures plunged $2.99, or 6.9%, the eighth consecutive weekly loss, as worries over high domestic U.S. oil production weighed.
Industry research group Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) said late Friday that the number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S. increased by six last week to 670, the third straight weekly gain.
There are still about 60% fewer rigs working since a peak of 1,609 in October, though the pace of declines has slowed considerably in recent weeks, fueling concerns that U.S. shale production could rebound in the months ahead.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent for September delivery fell to a session low of $48.42 a barrel, the weakest level since March 2009, before closing at $48.61, down 91 cents, or 1.84%.
On the week, London-traded Brent futures lost $2.94, or 6.9%, the sixth straight weekly decline, as ongoing concerns over a glut in world markets continued to drive down prices.
Global oil production is outpacing demand following a boom in U.S. shale oil production and after a decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries last year not to cut production.
Meanwhile, the spread between the Brent and the WTI crude contracts stood at $4.74 a barrel by close of trade on Friday, compared to $5.09 in the preceding week.
Concerns over the health of China’s economy, a broadly stronger U.S. dollar and prospects of higher interest rates in the U.S. later this year also weighed.
In the week ahead, investors will be looking to Thursday’s U.S. retail sales data for a further indication on the durability of the economic recovery. Speeches by Federal Reserve officials on Monday will also be in focus.
Traders are also awaiting a raft of Chinese economic data in the coming week, including reports on industrial production, fixed asset investment and retail sales.
Ahead of the coming week, Investing.com has compiled a list of these and other significant events likely to affect the markets.
Monday, August 10 – Federal Reserve Governor Stanley Fischer and Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart are to speak; their comments will be closely watched.
Tuesday, August 11 – In the euro zone, the ZEW Institute is to report on German economic sentiment.
The U.S. is to release preliminary data on unit labor costs, while the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, is to publish its weekly report on oil supplies.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Counties will publish its monthly assessment of oil markets.
Wednesday, August 12 – China is to publish data on industrial production and fixed asset investment.
The U.S. is to release a weekly government report on crude oil inventories.
Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency will release its monthly report on global oil supply and demand.
Thursday, August 13 – The European Central Bank is to publish the minutes of its latest policy meeting.
The U.S. is to produce data on retail sales, initial jobless claims and import prices.
Friday, August 14 – The euro zone is to publish preliminary data on second quarter economic growth as well as revised data on consumer inflation.
The U.S. is to release data on producer prices, industrial production and consumer sentiment to round up the week.