NEW YORK, Feb 9, 2016:

Global oil markets fell 3% yesterday to settle down for a third straight day on worries that US crude stockpiles had reached new record highs, while a Saudi-Venezuela meeting to boost prices showed little progress.

Oil was also hurt by tumbling US equity markets amid persistent fears about the global economic slowdown.

US commercial crude oil inventories and gasoline stocks, already brimming at record high levels, were forecast to have risen last week even as stockpiles of distillates likely fell, a preliminary Reuters survey showed.

The survey came after Sunday’s meeting between Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali al-Naimi and his Venezuelan counterpart produced no tangible signs that OPEC and non-OPEC suppliers were ready to meet to discuss the price slump in oil.

US crude settled below US$30 a barrel, finishing down US$1.20 at US$29.69. Global crude benchmark Brent settled down US$1.18 at US$33.88.

“Everyone’s fearing new builds in crude,” said Donald Morton, energy trader with Fairfield, Connecticut-based Herbert J. Sims & Co.

US crude stocks likely rose by 3.9 million barrels in the week ended Feb 5, said the Reuters survey, taken ahead of weekly inventory reports from industry group American Petroleum Institute and the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration.

In the previous week to Jan 29, domestic crude inventories hit record highs of nearly 503 million barrels

US stock markets experienced a broad sell-off that drove the financial, technology, consumer and materials indexes down as much as 3%.

“The big elephant in the room today was the global equity markets selling off on credit fears spiking and long-term rates tanking to new lows on the year,” said Chris Jarvis, analyst at Caprock Risk Management in Frederick, Maryland.

The Saudi-Venezuela meeting was seen as “make or break” for a deal to boost oil prices that have slumped 70% since mid-2014 and are now languishing near 2003 levels.

Venezuela’s oil minister Eulogio Del Pino, on a tour of oil producers to lobby for action to prop up prices, said his meeting with Naimi was “productive.”

“But does ‘productive’ mean less production? The market thinks not, at least right now,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Dominick Chirichella, senior partner at the Energy Management Institute in New York, said the possibility of a deal to cut production was “quickly fading into the sunset” and traders and investors were “once again left to focus on the reality of the oversupplied global market.”

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