U.S. crude futures contracts settled lower on Tuesday as traders looked beyond price defense attempts by Russia and Venezuela and toward Saudi Arabia and OPEC for fresh leads on whether the cartel will cut production when it meets later this month.
Saudi Arabia, the most powerful member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the world's No. 1 oil exporter, raised crude shipments in September, data showed on Tuesday, despite signs of an oversupplied market.
The Saudi data weighed on sentiment, helping push U.S. crude prices to near the four-year lows they hit on Friday.
Front-month U.S. crude settled $1.03 lower, or 1.4 percent, at $74.61 a barrel, after hitting a session low of $74.23 earlier. Benchmark Brent was down for a sixth session, 69 cents lower at $78.62 after falling as low as $78.21.
Crude prices fell even after U.S. stockpiles were forecast to have dropped by 1.2 million barrels last week, according to a Reuters survey.