Friday, January 18, 2019
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WTI Crude Falls for Fourth Day on Jobless Claims

West Texas Intermediate crude fell for a fourth day as U.S. jobless claims rose more than forecast last week. Brent gained after Libyan rebels denied a report that they are handing over an oil port to the government.

WTI's discount to Brent grew. Applications for unemployment benefits increased to a five-week high of 326,000 in a Labor Department report, exceeding the 319,000 median forecast of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Ali Al-Hasy, a spokesman for Libya's self-declared Executive Office for Barqa, said that there are no plans to cede control of the Zueitina port.

"The jobless claims are higher than expected and the report is bearish for the market," said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at the Price Futures Group in Chicago. "The Libya news should be supportive for Brent. The Brent-WTI spread is widening again."

WTI for May delivery declined 23 cents to $99.39 a barrel at 9:43 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The volume of all futures traded was 15 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day.

Brent for May settlement gained 23 cents to $105.02 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Volume was 47 percent above the 100-day average.

The European benchmark crude was at a premium of $5.63 to WTI. The spread shrank to $5.17 yesterday, the narrowest level since October. The North Sea grade is used to price more than half the world's oil, including exports from Libya.

The four-week average of jobless claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, was little changed at 319,500 from 319,250 the week before, the Labor Department said.
Libyan Ports

Rebels in eastern Libya have agreed to hand over the Zueitina port, Al Hayat, the London-based newspaper, reported earlier today, without saying where it got information. The rebels said yesterday that a government delegation had agreed "in principle" to three demands that would allow oil ports under the Barqa-region federalists' control to reopen.

The report in Al Hayat "is not true," Al-Hasy said in a phone interview. "We will first wait for the government to confirm the agreement reached yesterday with its representatives."

To contact the reporter on this story: Moming Zhou in New York at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dan Stets at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Margot Habiby, Charlotte Porter


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