Oil falls nearly 2 percent on stocks sell-off, pares OPEC deal gains

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil fell nearly 2 percent on Monday, echoing the weakness in global stock markets as the focus returned to demand growth concerns and crude prices erased some of the gains made last week on an OPEC-led decision to cut output.

Pumpjacks are seen against the setting sun at the Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang province, China December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

A gauge of global equities stumbled, putting it on track for its fifth straight daily decline, as losses in Europe and Asia extended to Wall Street on new signs the U.S.-China trade spat was impacting world economic growth.

The market was also weighed down by confusion stemming from British Prime Minister Theresa May’s postponement of a parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal and sluggish data from the world’s largest economies including the U.S, China, Japan and Germany in recent days.

“The stock market and oil market correlation is back on today,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management in New York. “These worries about the global economy and the demand outlook that follows on that for oil are a bigger and bigger negative for the market.”

Brent crude oil futures fell 75 cents to $60.96 a barrel by 11:54 a.m. EST (1654 GMT), while U.S. futures fell 95 cents to $51.66 a barrel.

Prices closed 3 percent higher on Friday after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and some non-OPEC producers, including heavyweight Russia, said they would cut oil supply by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from January.

The deal will be signed in three months’ time in Saudi Arabia, when OPEC and its allies will decide on extending the agreement after six months, the UAE’s energy minister said on Monday.

(GRAPHIC: Asia refining profit margins -

“Friday’s agreement was a seemingly good one, or maybe we should say the best one under the current circumstances,” Tamas Varga, a strategist with PVM Oil Associates, said.

“As good as it looks, our view is that it will not be able to provide long-term price supports because it could not help global oil inventories deplete.”

Global equities have fallen by nearly 8 percent so far this year, battered by concern about slowing corporate earnings and the threat to the broader economy from an escalating trade dispute between the United States and China.

(Graphic: Global oil market balance -

A steep increase in the pace of crude supply growth this year, especially in the world’s three largest producers - the United States, Saudi Arabia and Russia - has made a number of analysts wary about the prospect of demand being sufficient to mop up extra oil.

“As usual, prices are not a target of OPEC+ policy, but our takeaway is that current price levels largely meet the interests of most participating countries,” consultant JBC Energy said.

Edward Bell of Emirates NBD bank said “the scale of the cuts ... isn’t enough to push the market back into deficit” and that he expected “a market surplus of around 1.2 million bpd in Q1 with the new production levels”.

Oil prices have fallen sharply since October on signs of an economic slowdown, with Brent losing almost 30 percent in value.

Additional reporting by Amanda Cooper in London and Henning Gloystein in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Adrian Croft