Brent Extends Drop Below $80 as OPEC Seen Resisting Cuts

Brent crude extended losses below $80 a barrel, dropping to a four-year low amid signs that OPEC remains unwilling to reduce output to ease a supply glut. West Texas Intermediate fell in New York.

Futures slid as much as 2.1 percent in London to the lowest since September 2010. Saudi Arabia is committed to a stable market and speculation of a price war within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries “has no basis in reality,” Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said yesterday in Acapulco, Mexico. Crude stockpiles in the U.S., the world’s biggest oil consumer, probably rose for a sixth week, a Bloomberg News survey showed before government data today.

Oil sank into a bear market as leading OPEC members resisted calls to cut production and instead reduced export prices to the U.S., where output has climbed to the highest level in more than three decades. Venezuela, Libya and Ecuador have asked for action to prevent crude from falling further. The group is scheduled to meet this month in Vienna.

“People recognize that you’re unlikely to see a cut in this Nov. 27 OPEC meeting,” and that’s pushed prices lower in the last several days, Jeff Currie, head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in New York, said today in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “On the Move” with Jonathan Ferro. “When we look at U.S. shale production, it is continuing to surprise to the upside.”

OPEC Output

Brent for December settlement, which expires today, dropped as much as $1.67 to $78.71 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The more active January contract was down $1.37 at $79.75 at 1:47 p.m. local time. The European benchmark crude traded at a premium of $2.84 to WTI on ICE, the narrowest in almost a month.

WTI for December delivery was $1 lower at $76.18 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 76 cents to $77.18 yesterday, the lowest close since October 2011. The volume of all futures traded was about 66 percent above the 100-day average for the time of day. Prices have fallen 23 percent this year.

Saudi Arabia’s production slid 69,900 barrels a day to a seven-month low of 9.603 million in October, OPEC said in its monthly report yesterday. The 12-member group, which supplies about 40 percent of the world’s oil, pumped 30.253 million barrels a day, OPEC said, citing data based on estimates from sources including analysts and media organizations. That exceeds its collective target of 30 million set in January 2012.

Bearish Signal

The Saudi numbers are another bearish signal for the oil market, said Julian Lee, an oil strategist at Bloomberg First Word. At a time when domestic oil use typically falls by more than 200,000 barrels a day as weather cools, the October output figure implies the kingdom is either storing more crude or increasing exports, he said.

“To shake off negative sentiment in the oil market, OPEC will need to reduce production by between 1 million and 1.5 million barrels a day,” Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodities strategy at BNP Paribas SA, said in a report.

U.S. crude inventories probably expanded by 1.1 million barrels in the week ended Nov. 7, according to the median estimate in the Bloomberg survey of nine analysts before data from the Energy Information Administration today. Supplies previously rose to 380.2 million, the highest since July 4.

Gasoline stockpiles are projected to have climbed by 350,000 barrels, the survey shows. Distillate fuels, which includes heating oil and diesel, are forecast to have declined by 1.5 million.

Crude supplies shrank by 1.5 million barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute said yesterday, according to Bain Energy. The industry group in Washington collects information on a voluntary basis from operators of refineries, bulk terminals and pipelines. The government requires that reports be filed with the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm.

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