Investing.com - Oil traders will continue to fret over global crude supplies and the outlook for energy demand in the week ahead, after prices suffered the worst weekly performance in nearly three years last week.
Trading volumes are expected to remain light during the week due to the Christmas holiday as many traders already closed books before the end of the year.
A surprise climb in the U.S. rig count on Friday and a slump on Wall Street were all that were needed to seal a fourth day of losses of out five in crude.
West Texas Intermediate crude declined 29 cents, or roughly 0.6%, on Friday to settle at $45.59 a barrel by close of trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange. WTI earlier fell to $45.13, its lowest intraday price since mid-July 2017.
For the week, the U.S. benchmark lost about 11%, its steepest weekly drop since January 2016.
Meanwhile, the global benchmark, Brent crude for February delivery on the ICE (NYSE:ICE) Futures Europe exchange, shed 53 cents, or around 1%, to end at $53.82 a barrel. Brent reached a 15½-month low at $52.79 earlier in the session.
It tumbled about 10.7% for the week.
Crude oil has lost over a third of its value since October in what has become one of the biggest declines since a price collapse in 2014, with surging supply and the specter of faltering demand scaring off investors.
With just about one week to the end of 2018, WTI remains down about 25% this year, while Brent is down about 20% on the year.
Fresh weekly data on U.S. commercial crude inventories to gauge the strength of demand in the world’s largest oil consumer and whether output levels will continue to rise will capture the market's attention this week.
The reports come out one day later than usual due to the Christmas holiday on Tuesday.
The Energy Information Administration reported last week that domestic crude supplies declined by a less-than-expected 0.5 million barrels.
Offering a hint on U.S. production activity, Baker Hughes on Friday reported that U.S. energy firms added oil rigs for the first time in the past three weeks. Drillers added 10 oil rigs in the week to Dec. 21, bringing the total count to 883.
The increase exacerbated concerns tied to growing global crude production and a slowdown in energy demand.
Saudi-led OPEC and its non-member allies led by Russia agreed in early December to collectively cut production by a total of 1.2 million barrels a day during the first six months of 2019 in an effort to stave off a global glut in supplies.
Ahead of the coming week, Investing.com has compiled a list of the main events likely to affect the oil market.
Monday, December 24
U.S. energy markets will see an abbreviated session in observation of Christmas Eve.
Tuesday, December 25
Markets in the U.S. will remain closed for Christmas.
Wednesday, December 26
The American Petroleum Institute is to publish its weekly update on U.S. oil supplies.
Thursday, December 27
The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its weekly report on oil stockpiles.
Friday, December 28
Baker Hughes will release weekly data on the U.S. oil rig count.
-- Reuters contributed to this report