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by Stockwatch Business Reporter
West Texas Intermediate crude for May delivery tumbled $7.54 to $100.28 on the New York Merc, while Brent for May lost $5.54 to $107.91 (all figures in this para U.S.). Western Canadian Select traded at a discount of $10.90 to WTI, down from a discount of $10.80. Natural gas for May added three cents to $5.64. The TSX energy index lost 1.85 points to close at 223.04.
Oil prices headed lower as U.S. President Joe Biden ordered the largest ever release from the country's strategic petroleum reserve, vowing to pour more than 180 million barrels of oil into the market over the next six months. This works out to a release of one million barrels every day. For context, total global oil demand surpasses 100 million barrels a day, but the White House is taking an anything-helps approach to mitigating higher oil prices and inflation (and to appeasing consumers ahead of the congressional midterms later this year).
Meanwhile, OPEC+ held a monthly meeting today and (as expected) stuck to its plan for modest production increases. "Continuing oil market fundamentals ... pointed to a well-balanced market," asserted the group in a press release after the meeting. A small "baseline adjustment" was announced, in that the group agreed to increase production by 432,000 barrels a day next month, a mild increase from the original plan of 400,000. Yet OPEC+ continued to resist calls for more aggressive increases, opining today that "current volatility is not caused by fundamentals, but by ongoing geopolitical developments." The group will hold its next meeting on May 5.
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