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UPDATE 10-Oil falls as bearish trend continues, Saudi lowers prices
October 1, 2014 / 8:23 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 10-Oil falls as bearish trend continues, Saudi lowers prices

* Saudi Arabia cuts November oil price to Asia

* Ample supply and slowing demand weigh on prices

* U.S. crude stocks unexpectedly decline - EIA (Recasts, updates prices, adds analyst quote, detail on Saudi OSPs)

NEW YORK, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Oil prices fell toward $94 a barrel on Wednesday, continuing a three-month losing stretch as weak economic signals from China and Europe and ample global supply continued to weigh.

Brent and U.S. crude found early support from a U.S. government report showing a surprise drop in U.S. crude stockpiles and as Chinese factory data offered signs of hope for the slowing economy.

But gains were erased and bearish sentiment returned after Saudi Arabia announced a bigger-than-expected cut in its official oil sales price (OSPs) to Asia in November, the clearest sign yet that the world’s largest exporter is trying to compete for crude market share and keep oil markets well supplied.

“Prices came off, quite literally, after the OSPs came out,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects in London.

Wednesday’s fall added to last quarter’s losses that saw a 16 percent drop in Brent and a 12 percent drop in U.S. crude since June, the biggest quarterly rout in two years.

Brent crude settled 51 cents lower at $94.16 a barrel, its weakest settlement since June 2012, after earlier rising up to $96.23.

U.S. crude, which on Tuesday clocked its biggest one-day fall since November 2012, ended 43 cents higher at $90.73. Earlier in the day, U.S. crude rose to $92.96.

“In the short term, there just isn’t a bullish case,” said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “The trend is to go down and it was hard to stay higher today.”

Analysts made the largest downward revision on their oil price forecast in almost two years, a monthly Reuters poll showed, with the marked weakness in the price of Brent seen persisting into 2015.

U.S. crude inventories fell 1.4 million barrels last week, compared with an expected increase of 700,000 barrels, U.S. government data showed. A sharp reduction in refinery runs cut gasoline stocks to their lowest in nearly two years and pared distillate supplies ahead of winter.

“We had a big drop in refinery runs and a modest decline in crude stocks, which is a positive takeaway for U.S. crude,” said Dominick Chirichella, senior partner at the Energy Management Institute in New York.

Growth in China’s manufacturing sector held up in September but remained subdued. The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) came in at 51.1, just ahead of forecasts for a 51.0 reading and offering some relief to investors worried about slowing growth.

The oil price drop is a concern for some OPEC members, and the group will consider cutting production at a meeting on Nov. 27 in Vienna. Some analysts believe Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest producer, could cut before then if prices continue to slide. (Reporting by Edward McAllister and Catherine Ngai in New York, Sam Wilkin and Alex Lawler in London and Manolo Serapio Jr. in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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