Oil prices slide to lowest point in 18 months after US Fed raises rates

Friday, December 21, 2018
By Paul Martin

RT.com
21 Dec, 2018

Oil prices slumped on Friday with the Brent crude benchmark falling to the lowest point in 18 months – below $53 per barrel. It comes after the US Federal Reserve hiked interest rates, spooking the market.

US crude benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell nearly 1 percent to $45.32 a barrel, also marking a fresh low since it dropped to its weakest in more than a year on Tuesday. At the same time, Brent crude oil futures lost 2.3 percent, trading at $52.92 before slightly recovering.

The oil market turned negative less than a day after stocks continued heading down on Thursday, with the Dow Jones losing nearly 2 percent and tumbling below 23,000 points, its lowest close since October 2017.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq tech indices were also down more than 1.5 percent as of Thursday closing time.

The market rout came in apparent reaction to the Fed’s hiking of interest rates by a quarter-point for the fourth time this year to a range of 2.25 percent to 2.50 percent.

The move came despite repeated criticism from US President Donald Trump, who warned Fed chairman Jerome Powell against the raise. The US president earlier stressed that the rate hike would only damage the US economy.

The previous plunge in oil prices earlier this week occurred amid growing fears about global oversupply. The concerns were triggered by a US energy agency forecast, saying that oil production from major American shale basins is expected to surpass 8 million barrels per day by the end of the year.

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