New York — Oil futures settled sharply lower Sept. 29 as fundamental outlooks dimmed in light of resurgent coronavirus infections and rising Middle East crude supply.
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NYMEX November WTI settled $1.31 lower at $39.29/b and ICE November Brent traded down $1.40 on the day to settle at $41.03/b.
Positivity rates for new coronavirus infections in New York City, climbed to 3.25% Sept. 29, Mayor Bill DeBlasio said – the highest since June just as in person learning in the nation's largest school district was set to restart. The city is ramping up existing enforcement measures, including mask mandates, but is also considering instituting closures on businesses, certain schools, and child care operations in certain hot spots, the mayor said, according to media reports.
A similar surge in coronavirus cases in Europe has led a number of governments to reimpose lockdown measures, stoking concerns that widespread restrictions on travel and trade may be in the offing.
NYMEX October RBOB settled down 4.49 cents at $1.2017/gal and October ULSD fell 3.05 cents on the day to settle at $1.1090/gal.
ICE New York Harbor RBOB crack versus Brent fell to $8.16/b in midafternoon trading, down from $8.52/b on Sept. 28 and on pace to narrow for the first time since Sept. 22.
The passing of Kuwait emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah added further uncertainty the market, weighing on oil prices, analysts said.
"The market definitely took a substantial drop lower after the report of the death of the emir of Kuwait," Price Futures Group senior market analyst Phil Flynn said. "There is no expectation for a big change in oil policy, but whenever you have a transition people get nervous."
The 91-year-old emir's passing, announced Sept. 29 by the state-run Kuwait News Agency, is expected to see leadership handed to his heir and half-brother, Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed al-Sabah. Kuwait's ruler appoints members to the Supreme Petroleum Council, which governs oil policy.
Meanwhile, the market was also eyeing supply-side risks after Libya's crude oil production has more than doubled in the past week.
The OPEC member was pumping just over 250,000 b/d as oil fields in the east have resumed production, with some crude already flowing out of three key eastern terminals – Brega, Marsa el-Hariga and Zueitina – sources said Sept. 29.
In the past week, 2 million barrels of crude have been exported from Marsa el-Hariga and 1 million barrels will load out of Zueitina later this week, according to shipping and trading sources.
However, physical markets have so far remained stoic in the face of renewed Libyan output. Platts assessed Es Sider FOB Libya at a $1.35/b discount to the Med Dated Strip on Sept. 29, flat for a fifth consecutive session.