Oil falls to $74 on risk-averse mood, U.S. Gulf output

FILE PHOTO: Crude oil storage tanks are seen from above at the Cushing oil hub, in Cushing, Oklahoma, March 24, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) -Oil dropped more than $1 a barrel to around $74 on Monday as rising risk aversion weighed on stock markets and boosted the U.S. dollar, while more U.S. Gulf oil output came back online in the wake of two hurricanes.

The U.S. dollar, seen as a safe haven, rose as worries about Chinese property developer Evergrande’s solvency spooked equity markets and as investors braced for the Federal Reserve to take another step towards tapering this week. [USD/]

“Far East stock markets and the strong dollar are affecting oil,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM. “Nonetheless, unless all hell breaks loose, the positive sentiment ought to prevail.”

Brent crude fell $1.27, or 1.7%, to $74.07 at 0941 GMT, having dropped as low as $73.75 earlier in the session. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) declined $1.33, or 1.9%, to $70.64.

A stronger dollar makes U.S. dollar-priced oil more expensive for holders of other currencies and generally reflects higher risk aversion, which tends to weigh on oil prices.

Brent has gained 43% this year, supported by supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies and some recovery in demand after last year’s pandemic-induced collapse.

Oil had gained additional support from supply shutdowns in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico due to the two recent hurricanes, but as of Friday producing companies had just 23% of crude production offline, or 422,078 barrels per day.

“U.S. production in the Gulf of Mexico, which had been shut down as a result of the hurricane, is gradually returning to the market,” said Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank.

A rise in the U.S. rig count, an early indicator of future output, to its highest since April 2020 also kept a lid on prices.

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