Crude Oil Heads for Biggest Weekly Decline Since May Amid Rout on Economy

Oil fell to the lowest in eight months in New York, set for the biggest weekly decline since May, on speculation fuel demand will falter as U.S. economic growth falters and Europe’s debt crisis worsens.

Futures dropped as much as 4.3 percent after slumping 5.8 percent yesterday. The U.S. added 85,000 jobs last month, leaving the 9.2 percent unemployment rate unchanged, according to economists surveyed before data today that will cap a week of economic reports that showed the recovery is slowing. European Brent crude rebounded after an oil pipeline explosion in Iran, highlighting supply concerns from the Middle East.

“People are afraid about recession and debt,” Roland Stenzel, an oil trader at E&T Energie Handelsgesellschaft mbH, said by phone from Vienna. “Everyone’s now expecting oil demand will fall.”

Crude for September delivery dropped as much as $3.76 to $82.87 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest intraday price since Nov. 26. The contract traded at $85.60 a barrel as of 11:05 a.m. London time. A close at that level would mean a fall of 11 percent this week, the biggest weekly drop since the first week in May.

Brent for September settlement on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange rose as much as 2 percent to $109.38 a barrel and last traded at $107.86 a barrel. It fell as much as 2.75 percent earlier this morning. The European benchmark is up 14 percent this year. Its premium to U.S. futures widened to $22.08 a barrel. The spread closed at a record $22.67 on Aug. 2.

Pipeline Explosion

Iran’s biggest oil pipeline exploded today in Larstan in the west of the country, the state-run Mehr news service said. The nation is the second-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

“The fundamentals didn’t deteriorate in one day to such an extent to warrant this sell off,” Amrita Sen, an oil analyst at Barclays Plc, said by phone from London. “It’s going to remain choppy from here with the macro environment so uncertain.”

Crude in New York, which fell below a long-term Fibonacci support yesterday, has crossed the bottom of a technical downtrend channel at about $85.20 a barrel, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The 14-day relative strength index for West Texas Intermediate futures also dropped below 30, signaling the market may have fallen too quickly. Today’s reading is 23.9, the lowest since May 2010.

“I want to see if the $85 a barrel level holds for WTI and $107 for Brent crude, whether it will be solid or not,” said Ken Hasegawa, a commodity-derivatives sales manager at broker Newedge Group in Tokyo, who estimates that futures may decrease to $83.90 in New York and $102.30 in London if prices break below those marks.

Equities Plunge

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index plunged as much as 3.3 percent, extending its loss for the week to 11 percent. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 4.1 percent, taking its weekly loss to 8.1 percent. That will be the steepest one-week drop since October 2008, when credit markets froze following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brother Holdings Inc. a month earlier.

The Labor Department’s data are due at 8:30 a.m. in Washington.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index was minus 47.6 in the week to July 31, the lowest since May. Confidence among women fell to the lowest level since October 2009, while Americans making more than $100,000 a year were the most pessimistic since November 2009.

Tropical Storm Emily was broken up by 10,000-foot (3,000- meter) mountains in Haiti and the Dominican Republic and storm warnings throughout the Caribbean were dropped. Emily’s maximum winds have fallen to 35 miles (56 kilometers) per hour, below the threshold of 39 mph used to designate a system as a tropical storm, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rachel Graham in Belfast

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