US crude oil briefly fell below $50 a barrel early Thursday for the first time in more than a year before rebounding on a report that Russia might be willing to cut its output.
Oil’s recent slide has shaved more than a third off its price. Crude fell more than 1% Thursday to as low as $49.41 a barrel. The last time oil closed below $50 was in October 4, 2017. By mid morning the price had climbed back to above $51.
Concerns about oversupply have sent oil prices into a virtual freefall: Crude hit a four-year high above $76 a barrel less than two months ago.
Traders looking for a rebound in the price of oil were hoping that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman might reach an agreement about production cuts when they meet at the G20 meeting this weekend. But Putin said Thursday the current depressed price of oil suits him just fine, dashing hopes of further cuts in production.
But Reuters reported later in the morning that Russia is becoming increasingly convinced that it needs to cut output in tandem with OPEC. That was enough to end the slide and lift prices.
Still investors are worried that US production is increasing as economic activity overseas slows. As the price of oil rose earlier this year, US shale oil production surged. The United States passed Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest oil producer.
US gasoline prices have also started to fall. A gallon of gas dropping 30 cents on average over the past month, according to AAA. That’s an 11% drop.