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Futures Movers: U.S. oil snaps 7-session streak of gains but logs best yearly rise since 2009

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U.S. oil futures on Friday settled lower on the eve of 2022, marking the first decline in the past eight sessions, but the loss belies a stellar year for crude bulls, with the commodity posting the sharpest annual rise since 2009.

News on the spread of the omicron variant of COVID helped to inject a dose of caution among traders, but the strain has mostly been dismissed as less severe and therefore less of a potential demand drag for the crude complex.

West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery CLG22, -2.03%   CL00, -2.03% traded $1.78, or 2.3%, lower to end at $75.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after gaining 0.6% on Thursday. WTI’s seven straight gains marked the longest such advance since an eight-session period ended Feb. 10.

For the week, oil rose 1.9%, rose 13.7% in December and posted a 0.3% rise in the quarter. For the year, WTI rallied more than 55% to clinch its sharpest annual gain in 12 years, FactSet data show.

February Brent crude BRNG22, the international benchmark BRN00, +0.21%, was trading $1.75, or 2.2%, lower at $77.78 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, following a gain of 0.1% a day ago.

For the week, month and year, the Brent contract is up 2.6%, 10.2% in December and about 50% in the year to date, FactSet data show.

For the quarter, Brent is down 0.9%.

Friday’s stallout in crude comes as COVID infections have ratcheted higher in parts of the world. The seven-day average of new cases in the U.S. has risen at a parabolic pace to 344,543 on Thursday, up from 301,477 on Wednesday.

And flight cancellations headed into 2022 persist as sick employees make it difficult for airlines to properly staff flights.

However, in South Africa, where the omicron variant of COVID was first identified, the government said the country’s latest viral outbreak had subsided and it would be easing restrictions.

Next week, OPEC+ will assess its plans to boost daily oil production among its members to 400,000 bpd starting in February or adjust its output to factor the spread of COVID. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, including Russia, will meet on Jan. 4 to discuss global output strategy.

In other energy products, February natural-gas futures  NGG22, +5.50%, the most-active contract, rose 16.9 cents, or 4.8%, to settle at $3.7300 per million British thermal unit. For the week it gained 2.8%, but fell 18.3% on the month and 36.4% for the quarter.

For the year, natural gas gained nearly 47%, marking its largest yearly gain since 2016.

Meanwhile, January heating oil HOF22 fell 6.58 cents, or 2.8%, to end at $2.3301 per gallon, with a weekly slide of less than 0.1%. The January contract expired at the end of the session. February heating oilHOG22 settled 6.1 cent, or 2.6%, lower at $2.3253 per gallon.

For the month, the product rose 12.9%, but fell 0.5% in the final three months of 2021. For the year, heating oil gained nearly 58% and logged its sharpest one-year rise since 2007.

January gasoline futures RBF22 ended 6.83 cents, or 3%, lower to settle at $2.2285 per gallon, with a weekly advance of 1%. For the month, gasoline is up 12.5% but is off 1.1% on the quarter. For the year, the commodity is up 58% for its firmest yearly gain since 2009. Gasoline’s January contract also expired on Friday.

The most-active February contract RBG22, -3.00% closed 6.68 cents, or 2.9%, lower to finish at $2.2246 per gallon.

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