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U.S. Crude at Lowest Since June Spurs Global Oil Price Decline and Foretells Lower Gas Prices

WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday, U.S. crude experienced a 4% decline, reaching its lowest level since late June, while retail gasoline prices hit their lowest point since January, just before the holiday shopping and travel season. The West Texas Intermediate contract for January dropped $2.94 (4.07%) to settle at $69.38 per barrel. Simultaneously, the Brent contract for February fell $2.90 (3.76%) to settle at $74.30 a barrel.

Despite efforts by OPEC+ to boost prices by pledging to cut supply in the first quarter of 2024, both U.S. crude and the global benchmark have fallen for five consecutive days. As of Wednesday, U.S. pump prices averaged $3.22 per gallon, the lowest since January 3, according to AAA.

The decline in oil prices began in September, with non-OPEC+ nations, especially the U.S., rapidly increasing crude production. Concerns about the Chinese economy have also contributed to the downward trend. Moody’s downgraded China’s government credit rating outlook from stable to negative on Tuesday.

While crude prices briefly spiked in mid-October during the Israel-Hamas conflict, traders have largely dismissed the risk of a broader regional war disrupting supplies. On Wednesday, U.S. data revealed a mixed picture of demand, showing a 4.6 million-barrel decrease in crude inventories but a 5.4 million-barrel increase in gasoline stocks for the week ending December 1, according to the Energy Information Agency.

Amid skepticism about OPEC+ delivering on its promised 2.2 million bpd (Barrels Per Day) supply cuts in the first quarter of next year, several members announced voluntary cuts after failing to reach a unanimous agreement on production targets.

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