Oil continued to slide in after-hours trading. "The selling appears to have accelerated a little bit after the close with really no bullish news in sight," said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Associates. WTI futures temporarily fell below $59 in late trading.
"The big level is going to be $50 now in terms of psychological support. Much as $100 is on the upside," said John Kilduff of Again Capital.
Oil stands a good chance of getting there too. Tom Kloza, founder and analyst at Oil Price Information Service, said the market could bottom for the winter in about 30 days, but then it will be up to whatever OPEC does. The cartel in November voted to keep its production unchanged in an effort to hold market share.
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"It's (oil) actually much weaker than the futures markets indicate. This is true for crude oil, and it's true for gasoline. There's a little bit of a desperation in the crude market," said Kloza. "The Canadian crude, if you go into the oil sands, is in the $30s, and you talk about Western Canadian Select heavy crude upgrade that comes out of Canada, it's at $41/$42 a barrel. Bakken is probably about $54."
Kloza said some there's talk that Venezuelan heavy crude is seeing prices $20 to $22 less than Brent, the international benchmark. Brent futures were at $63.20 per barrel late Thursday.
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"In the actual physical market, it's fallen by even more than the futures market. That's a telling sign, and it's telling me that this isn't over yet. This isn't the bottoming process. The physical market turns before the futures," he said.
As for consumers, Kloza said gasoline should fall below $2 in about a dozen states in the near future, as the national average heads toward $2.50 per barrel. According to AAA, the national average Thursday was $2.62 per gallon on regular gasoline. That compares with $2.72 a week ago and $3.25 a year ago.