Oil prices have tumbled in the runup to the release of data expected to show US inventories at record highs. Rising production from the world’s biggest exporter, Saudi Arabia, also fuelled worries about global oversupply.
Brent crude fell $2 to $58.53 a barrel on Thursday, after hitting a two-month high of $63 a barrel on Tuesday. US crude for March delivery, which expires on Friday, also lost $2, to $50.05 a barrel.
Falling oil prices drove the Russian rouble lower, as oil is one of the country’s main exports.
According to the American Petroleum Institute, US crude stocks rose by 14.3m barrels last week, far more than analysts had expected. Markets are waiting for official figures from the US Energy Information Administration, out at 16.00 GMT. If they confirm the large build-up in inventories, it would be the biggest weekly increase since data started in 1982.
In addition, Saudi production may be increasing to near 10m barrels a day, according to consultancy PIRA.
Analysts at ANZ bank said: “Crude oil prices declined on concerns that the recent rally is overdone amid a continuing supply glut. The price rise of 34% since mid-January has largely been fueled by cuts to capital spending and falling US rig counts, which have yet to result in a fall in near-term production.”
Crude prices have recovered somewhat after hitting a low of $45 a barrel in recent months. Amid a global oil glut, prices slumped from a peak of $115 in June.