Oil prices plunged more than 6 percent to the lowest level in more than a year on Monday, pulling back sharply late in the session as fears of an economic slowdown rattled the market.
US crude futures and global benchmark Brent hit their lowest levels since 2017 during the session, putting both benchmarks on track for losses of about 40 percent in the fourth quarter.
“What's happening in the stock market is raising fears that the economy is grinding to a halt and thereby will basically kill any future oil demand,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “They're pricing in a slowdown in the economy if not a recession with this drop.”
The fourth-quarter price decline is likely to cause producers to throttle back on their output, he said.
US crude futures have hit the lowest level since June 22, 2017, as jitters have grown about the impact of the escalating US-China trade dispute on global growth and crude demand. Brent crude is at its lowest level since Aug. 17, 2017.
Markets across asset classes have come under pressure as the US government shutdown that began just after midnight on Saturday intensified growth concerns. Investors have flocked to safe-haven assets such as gold and government debt at the expense of crude oil and stocks.
A gauge of stocks worldwide hurtled toward an eighth straight decline on Monday as investors ignored the US Treasury secretary's actions to reinforce confidence in the economy and US President Donald Trump criticized the Federal Reserve as “the only problem our economy has.”
The US Senate has been unable to break an impasse over Trump's demand for more funds for a wall on the border with Mexico, and a senior official said the shutdown could continue until Jan. 3.
US crude futures CLc1 settled at $42.53 a barrel, down $3.06, or 6.7 percent. Brent crude futures settled down $3.35, or 6.2 percent, at $50.47 a barrel. The market settled early ahead of the Christmas holiday. Prices extended losses in post-settlement trade.