NEW YORK, (Reuters) – Oil plummeted $4 on Thursday as gains in the U.S. dollar spurred profit-taking that dragged crude further from its record peak near $120 a barrel.
U.S. crude traded down $3.35 at $114.95 per barrel by 1:11 p.m. EDT (1711 GMT), up from its low of $114.25 reached earlier. London Brent fell $3.30 to $111.16 a barrel.
Oil and other dollar-denominated commodities came under pressure after data showed U.S. jobless claims down sharply last week, boosting the dollar by more than 1 percent against a basket of major currencies. “This morning’s sell-off has been engineered by the strengthening of the dollar,” said Nauman Barakat, senior vice president at Macquarie Futures USA.
The sliding dollar has devalued assets in the U.S. currency, pushing investors to shift their cash to commodities that helped lift crude to an all-time high of $119.90 on Tuesday.
Production disruptions in Nigeria and a planned two-day strike at a Scottish refinery that could affect 700,000 barrels per day of North Sea crude supplies also supported oil.
Talks to resolve a pension dispute at the 200,000 bpd Grangemouth refinery collapsed late Wednesday, and union officials said the stoppage will go ahead on Sunday.
The refinery has been closing gradually over the last week and its power station, which also supplies BP’s nearby Kinneil Forties crude oil processing plant, is due to shut on Saturday.
The potential strike sent London’s gas oil futures,the European benchmark for distillate products such heating fuel and diesel, to new highs. The shutdown of a diesel line at Finish refiner Neste Oil’s Porvoo refinery through the end of May also buoyed gas oil.
Rebel attacks have shut 169,000 bpd of Royal Dutch Shell in Nigeria.
In Libya, 45,000 bpd of Libyan offshore oil production had been halted due to a technical problem and could be off line for a few weeks, the head of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said Thursday.