Oil Threatens To Plunge Into Bear-market Territory

By Mark DeCambre Markets MarketWatch Pulse

U.S. crude-oil prices on Tuesday were on the brink of crossing into bear-market territory, defined as a drop of at least 20% from a recent peak, as the the market continues to be dogged by oversupply concerns. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in July was trading 1.8% lower at $43.43 a barrel. Measured from its Feb. 21 peak, when crude settled at $54.33 a barrel, WTI is down about 20%, representing a bear market if it holds at its current levels, according to FactSet data. The decline in crude comes even as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other major oil producers have agreed to extend a production-limit pact into the first quarter of 2018, in order to stem the flow of oil, which has weighed mightily on crude futures. U.S. shale-oil drillers, who aren't a part of the output agreement, have been cited as the main culprit, disrupting OPEC's efforts to stabilize oil prices. In another bearish sign for U.S. crude, oil's short-term trading average, its 50-day moving average, has been slipping below the long-term trading average, or 200-day MA. Chart technicians look at trading patterns to determine short- and long-term trends in an asset.

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