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U.S. oil futures fall to lowest since March, Brent below $50



© Reuters. Crude oil futures fall to multi-month lows on supply outlook – U.S. oil futures fell to the lowest level in more than four months on Thursday, as an unexpected gasoline stock build last week dented the demand outlook.

for delivery in September on the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped to an intraday low of $44.84 a barrel, a level not seen since March 20, before trading at $44.91 during European morning hours, down 24 cents, or 0.54%.

A day earlier, Nymex oil fell 59 cents, or 1.29%, to close at $45.15. New York-traded oil tumbled to a more than four-month low of $45.08 on Monday.

Oil's losses on Wednesday came after a rise in supplies of oil products overshadowed a larger-than-expected fall in U.S. crude inventories last week.

declined by 4.4 million barrels last week to 455.3 million, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Market analysts' expected a crude-stock fall of 1.5 million.

Supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma, the key delivery point for Nymex crude, decreased by 542,000 barrels last week, compared to forecasts for a decline of 200,000 and following a drop of 212,000 barrels a week earlier.

The report also showed that increased by 0.8 million barrels, while rose by 0.7 million barrels.

Energy traders have been paying close attention to gasoline stockpiles in recent weeks as the U.S. driving season entered its peak gasoline demand period.

WTI oil futures dropped $12.22, or 21.24%, in July, the biggest monthly loss since October 2008, as worries over high domestic U.S. oil production weighed.

Industry research group Baker Hughes (NYSE:) said Friday that the number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S. increased by five last week to 664, the second straight weekly gain.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, for September delivery shed 5 cents, or 0.1%, to trade at $49.54 a barrel. On Wednesday, London-traded Brent prices tumbled to $49.02, the lowest since January 27, before ending at $49.59, down 40 cents, or 0.85.

Brent futures plunged $11.39, or 18.6%, last month as ongoing worries over a global supply glut drove down prices.

Global oil production is outpacing demand following a boom in U.S. shale oil production and after a decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries last year not to cut production.

Meanwhile, the spread between the Brent and the WTI crude contracts stood at $4.63 a barrel, compared to $4.44 by close of trade on Wednesday.

Market players looked ahead to Friday's U.S. nonfarm payrolls report amid ongoing speculation the Federal Reserve was on track to raise interest rates in September.

The consensus forecast is that the report will show jobs growth of 223,000 last month. Monthly jobs gains above 200,000 are seen by economists as consistent with strong employment growth.

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