Oil prices slumped by more than $2 per barrel on Tuesday, deepening their biggest slide this year as rising Libyan supplies and downbeat economic data sharpened concerns that the global market was heading into a near-term glut.
World oil prices have rapidly erased a geopolitical risk premium that had been pushing prices up since April, and selling has accelerated in recent days as traders shift their focus from violence in Iraq and Libya to weak global fundamentals.
Despite ongoing fighting between militias in Tripoli, Libya's oil output has risen to 588,000 barrels per day (bpd), an increase of around 25 percent since the weekend, the acting oil minister told Reuters.
Brent crude dropped more than $2 to under $105 a barrel, the lowest since April 3. Prices have declined almost 7 percent since the beginning of July, an abrupt sell-off that has caught many analysts off guard. The front-month August contract expires on Wednesday, putting further pressure on prices as investors liquidate positions, analysts said.
U.S. crude fell 95 cents to settle at $99.96 a barrel, its lowest since May 9. The contract briefly broke its 200-day moving average of $99.92, a key technical indicator closely watched by traders.
As global oil supply remains solid, the oil markets are coming under pressure from weaker-than-expected economic data from some of the world's largest economies.
In China, lower global refining activity and weaker buying have decreased demand for crude oil, London-based consultancy Energy Aspects said in a note. Investors are awaiting June growth figures, due on Wednesday, to understand whether the world's top net oil importer needs further stimulus support.
Despite higher supplies from Libya, concerns mounted over rising violence after militia clashes in Tripoli closed the country's main airport and prompted the United Nations to evacuate its staff.
--By Reuters. For more information on commodities prices, please click here.