Oil falls on strong dollar, crude glut; storms limit losses

By Barani Krishnan. NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices fell Tuesday, with Brent losing nearly 2 percent, as the dollar rallied and glut worries grew amid forecasts for higher U.S. crude stockpiles and Iran’s remark that it was on target to reach peak production.

A maze of crude oil pipes and valves is pictured during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, U.S. June 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Richard Carson
A maze of crude oil pipes and valves is pictured during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, U.S. June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Richard Carson

News that energy companies in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico had shut some 22 percent of crude oil equivalent output as a precaution to threats from a tropical storm limited some of the downside in crude prices.

Brent crude futures settled down 89 cents, or 1.8 percent, at $48.37 (36.9709 pounds) per barrel.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 63 cents, or 1.3 percent, to close at $46.35.

It was a second straight day that oil slid on worries of oversupply and a strong dollar, adding to Monday’s drop of more than 1 percent in Brent and WTI.

“Today is just another economic story that’s fed the dollar’s strength and with the weekly build expected in U.S. crude, prices are getting a double whammy,” said Tariq Zahir, a trader in WTI timespreads at Tyche Capital Advisors in New York.

“Yes, we have storm concerns but they are not really affecting production as much as the market bulls would like.”

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, hit session peaks after the U.S. Consumer Expectations Index rose to October highs. [USD/]

The dollar has rallied since Friday, after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen raised expectations for a U.S. rate hike in a policy speech. A stronger greenback tends to make dollar-denominated commodities such as oil costlier for holders of other currencies.

Analysts said U.S. crude stockpiles likely rose by almost 1  million barrels last week, the second straight weekly build, as the peak summer period for U.S. driving and gasoline consumption winds down. [EIA/S]

Trade group American Petroleum Institute will issue a preliminary inventory report after Tuesday’s market settlement at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT), ahead of official data on Wednesday from the government.

An Iranian government official said at an oil industry conference in Norway that Tehran’s production was expected to hit 4 million barrels per day by year end. Iran was producing that much before Western sanctions reduced its exports.

Oil rallied about 20 percent earlier this month, after the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said it was working with non-OPEC members to reach a production freeze. Iraq said on Tuesday it was committed to freezing output when OPEC meets informally for talks with other producers in Alegria next month.

(Additional reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar in LONDON and Roslan Khasawneh in SINGAPORE; editing by David Gregorio and Marguerita Choy)

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