Oil down 1 percent to near seven-year low on glut, dollar; gasoline jumps

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Crude oil prices fell 1 percent on Thursday to new lows since 2009 as traders looked beyond a drop in U.S. crude stockpiles to focus on a global supply glut, while a stronger dollar weighed on commodities.

A pump jack is seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

U.S. gasoline futures were the only bright spot on the petroleum complex, rallying on concerns over a refinery outage and possible cuts in production.

Futures of Brent and U.S. crude’s West Texas Intermediate (WTI) struck near seven-year lows for a fourth day in a row in continued fallout from an OPEC meeting last week that abandoned price support measures. Unimpressive U.S. government inventory data from Wednesday added to the drag.

In its latest monthly report on Thursday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries forecast that oil supply from countries outside the group - including United States and Russia - would fall by 380,000 barrels per day (bpd) next year, three times above previous expectations.

But OPEC also struck a bearish chord by saying its group output rose by 230,000 bpd in November to 31.7 million. It left unchanged its forecast for 2016 world oil demand growth at 1.25 million bpd.

OPEC’s report “fell easily within (the) range of expectations”, Jim Ritterbusch of Chicago-based oil consultancy Ritterbusch & Associates, explaining its lack of positive impact.

He also said the weekly drop of 3.6 million barrels in U.S. crude stocks announced by the government on Wednesday was seen as refiner de-stocking before the end of the U.S. tax year. “Additional U.S. commercial crude stock draws will be shrugged off”, he added.

Brent settled down 38 cents at $39.73 a barrel. It extended its fall in post-settlement trade, striking a new February 2009 low of $39.46 by 4:00 p.m. EST.

WTI finished the session down 40 cents at $36.76. In post-settlement, it reached a near seven-year low at $36.38.

The dollar rose for the first time in three days, making commodities denominated in the greenback less affordable to users of the euro and other currencies.

U.S. gasoline jumped more than 3 percent after reports that BP’s 405,000-bpd Whiting catalytic reformer unit was shut on Wednesday at just before midnight New York time.

The profit for refining a barrel of crude into gasoline, meanwhile, rose to its highest seasonal level since 2012. Traders cited concerns about refiners cutting runs due to weak demand for distillates, which includes diesel, amid mild winter forecasts.

In Friday’s market, traders will be looking out weekly data on U.S. oil rigs for an indication of future production.

Additional reporting by Simon Falush in London; Editing by Jason Neely, Mark Potter, Marguerita Choy and Diane Craft