Oil futures recovered some ground early, reversing some of a decline that brought them to their lowest levels since July and left them on the cusp of bear-market territory.
West Texas Intermediate crude
for December delivery was up $1, or 1.4%, to $73.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
January Brent crude
the global benchmark, declined $1.10, or 1.4%, to $78.52 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. Based on the front-month contracts, Brent and WTI crude both finished Thursday’s session at their lowest since July 6, according to Dow Jones Market Data. WTI was down 19.8% from its 52-week high of $96.55 from Sept. 27, leaving it just shy of bear-market territory.
gained 1% to $2.12 a gallon, while December heating oil
rose by 0.8% to $2.77 a gallon.
Natural gas for December delivery
fell by 1.1% to $4.76 per million British thermal units.
Crude oil prices continued to slide this week, with the front-month WTI futures contract down more than 4% following Thursday’s sharp decline, which was spurred by soft economic data out of the U.S. and China and rising supply.
Friday’s modest rebound was being helped by a weaker U.S. dollar as the ICE U.S. Dollar Index
was off 0.2% at 104.14. Still, analysts noted that momentum would likely continue to carry prices lower amid fears of slowing global demand.
“Oil prices plummeted by 5% due to indications of an oversupplied physical oil market. Oil stocks in the United States have surged to their highest level in 2 1/2 months, while marginal oil-producing countries worldwide have increased their output, catching up with their lackluster performance over the past few months,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management, in emailed commentary.
WTI crude futures were on track Friday to log a two-week decline of more than 10%. That would be the largest two-week slide for oil prices since hte week ended March 17, according to FactSet data.