Global crude oil prices slumped anew on December 18, a day after a short-covering rally, as traders placed fresh bets the market would resume a six-month rout on worries about a supply glut, Reuters said.
Benchmark Brent and U.S. crude tumbled $2 a barrel each in late trading after initially extending Wednesday’s short-covering, which lifted oil prices by more than $3. With Brent back below the psychologically-key level of $60 a barrel and U.S. crude under $55, traders braced for more selling in a market that has lost about half its value since June, the report said.
Oil’s near 50 percent drop over the past six-months began on worries about fast-growing U.S. shale oil supplies and accelerated after OPEC’s decision in November not to cut output.
Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin assured Russians on Thursday that the economy would rebound after the ruble’s dramatic slide this year but offered no remedy for a deepening financial crisis, according to Reuters.
Defiant and confident at a three-hour news conference, Putin blamed the economic problems on external factors and said the crisis over Ukraine was caused by the West, which he accused of building a “virtual” Berlin Wall to contain Russia, the report said.
At times sneering, at others cracking jokes, he ignored pressure to say how he will fix an economy facing what his economy minister calls a “perfect storm” of low oil prices, Western sanctions over Ukraine and global financial problems, according to Reuters.
The ruble has fallen about 45 percent against the dollar this year, and suffered particularly steep falls on Monday and Tuesday, but Putin refused to call it a crisis and said it would eventually rise again.
“If the situation develops unfavorably, we will have to amend our plans. Beyond doubt, we will have to cut some (spending). But a positive turn and emergence from the current situation are inevitable, ” Putin said in comments to a packed conference center that were broadcast live to the nation, the report said.
The ruble slipped as he spoke, and was about 2 percent weaker against the dollar on the day. The central bank increased its key lending rate by 6.5 percentage points to 17 percent on Tuesday, and has spent more than $80 billion trying to shore up the ruble this year, but to little avail, Reuters said.