Oil prices plunged to their lowest levels in over a year on Thursday, deepening a sell-off fueled by concerns about oversupply as stock markets slumped on rising U.S. interest rates.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude ended Thursday's session down $2.29, or 4.8 percent, at $45.88, the lowest closing price since July 2017. WTI is now down about 24 percent this year.
Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil prices, fell $2.89, or about 5 percent, to $54.35, its weakest settle since mid-September 2017. Brent has shed nearly 19 percent in 2019.
Crude futures staged a rally in the previous session on signs of strong fuel demand in the United States. However, bearish reports out of Asia overnight added to worries on both the supply and demand sides of the oil market ledger.
"There's just a really negative narrative out there," said John Kilduff, founding partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital. "The stars are just aligned right now in a bearish way."
In India, crude oil imports in November registered their biggest year-over-year decline in almost four years, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Asian oil buyers reported robust purchases of Saudi crude in January after the kingdom cut prices into the region, according to S&P Global Platts.
Oil recouped some of the losses through the morning, but dropped sharply around noon, mirroring a pullback in the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 450 points as equities were buffeted by the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to raise its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday.
Crude futures have now fallen more than 35 percent from their 52-week highs in early October. The market is grappling with surging supply from the world's top three producers — the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia — at a time when demand for oil is expected to grow less than previously expected.
To prevent a price-crushing glut, OPEC and 10 other producers including Russia agreed earlier this month to remove 1.2 million barrels per day from the market. But the production cuts do not take effect until January, and the announcement has so far done little to stop the collapse in crude prices.
OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo is now calling on the allied producers to publicly release their production levels, Reuters reported on Thursday. The producers did not disclose that detail during a press conference earlier this month, leaving the market to question how much oil production each country would cut.