Crude oil futures decline ahead of ECB outcome

Shutterstock photo - - Crude oil futures declined on Thursday, as investors were cautious ahead of the conclusion of the European Central Bank's monthly policy meeting later in the day.

On the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent for December delivery traded at $82.70 a barrel during European morning hours, down 25 cents, or 0.3%.

A day earlier, London-traded Brent futures fell by as much as 1.4% to hit $81.64 a barrel, a level not seen since October 2010, before turning higher to end at $82.95, up 13 cents, or 0.16%.

Investors were awaiting the outcome of the ECB meeting later in the day after the Bank of Japan's surprise stimulus move last week fuelled expectations that it will soon follow suit in order to spur growth and inflation in the euro area.

The bank's latest policy announcement was given extra significance following recent reports of tensions within the ECB over President Mario Draghi's leadership style.

Opposition to Draghi could make an easing program by the central bank harder to implement.

Elsewhere, on the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for delivery in December shed 12 cents, or 0.15%, to trade at $76.57 a barrel.

Nymex oil rallied $1.49, or 1.93%, on Wednesday to settle at $78.68 a barrel after data showed that oil supplies in the U.S. increased less than expected last week, while gasoline supplies fell more than forecast.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 0.5 million barrels last week to a total of 380.2 million barrels. Analysts expected an increase of 1.9 million barrels.

The report also showed that total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.4 million barrels, compared to forecasts for a decline of 1.0 million barrels.

Market players looked ahead to the release of the latest U.S. nonfarm payrolls report on Friday, for further indications on the strength of the recovery in the labor market.

Market analysts expect the data to show that the U.S. economy added 231,000 jobs in October, after a gain of 248,000 in September.

The ADP nonfarm payrolls report released Wednesday showed that the U.S. private sector added 230,000 jobs in October, above expectations for jobs growth of 220,000.

Separately, the Institute of Supply Management said that its non-manufacturing index slowed to 57.1 last month from 58.6 in September, but the employment component of the index rose, boosting the outlook for the labor market.

London-traded Brent prices have fallen nearly 28% since June, when it climbed near $116, while WTI futures are down almost 27% from a recent peak of $107.50 in June.

Concerns over weakening global demand combined with indications that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will not cut output to support oil markets have weighed on prices in recent weeks.

Some market analysts believe that only a cut in production by the oil cartel will halt the decline in prices. Saudi Arabia cut its selling price for customers in the U.S. earlier in the week, suggesting that the kingdom is trying to compete with U.S. shale oil.

Oil ministers from the 12-member group are scheduled to meet in Vienna on November 27 to consider whether to adjust their production target for early 2015. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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