The Christmas Eve rout was linked to fears of a potential global economic slowdown and the possibility of a protracted U.S. government shutdown over budget that pushed Wall Street’s S&P 500 to near bear-market territory. Stocks rallied sharply in afternoon trading, adding fuel to oil’s recovery.
Brent was up $3.98, or 7.9%, at $54.57 by 2:42 PM ET (19:42 GMT). It fell to an Aug 2017 low of $50.66 on Monday. Brent remains down 18% on the year and is off 37% from four-year highs of nearly $87 a barrel hit in early October.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rebounded forcefully on Wednesday as markets reopened from the Christmas holiday, surging 9% to recoup all of what it lost just before the break and more.
WTI settled up $3.69, or 8.7%, at $46.22 per barrel. It fell $3.06, or nearly 7% on Monday, after hitting June 2017 low of $42.53. Despite the rebound, WTI remains down 24% on the year and is off 40% from four-year highs of nearly $77 a barrel hit in early October.
“It looks like there’s some help for oil now before the year-end because the selloff on Christmas Eve was probably overdone,” said Phil Flynn, senior energy analyst at The Price Futures Group brokerage in Chicago. “But conversely, you can argue that this rebound is also overdone because we just don’t know if the bears will return in force after this.”
“I’m selling into this strength as I don’t believe it will sustain,” Tariq Zahir, an oil bear at Tyche Capital Advisors in New York, said.