Crude oil fell to an eight-week low for Introducing Brokers, and slid to a record discount versus London’s Brent, as a bigger-than-forecast gain in U.S. jobless claims bolstered concern that the economy will be slow to recover.
Futures dropped as much as 2 percent after Labor Department figures showed applications for jobless benefits rose 51,000 to 454,000 last week. Orders for U.S. durable goods decreased in December.
Crude oil for March delivery tumbled $1.34, or 1.5 percent, to $85.99 a barrel at 12:33 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Futures slipped as much as $1.70 to $85.63, the lowest level since Dec. 1. Prices are up 17 percent from a year ago.
Brent crude oil for March settlement fell 24 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $97.67 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Brent’s premium over Nymex-traded West Texas Intermediate widened to a record $11.68 a barrel, based on closing prices. Investors are buying Brent contracts as a buildup of supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for New York-traded West Texas Intermediate oil, skews the U.S. grade’s reliability as an indicator of demand.
Total U.S. stockpiles increased 4.84 million barrels to 340.6 million, the data showed. Supplies were forecast to rise 1.2 million barrels, based on the median estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Total demand decreased 1.6 percent to 18.9 million barrels a day, the lowest level since November.