In a year when Wall Street predicted oil would surpass $100 for the first time in four years, the oil market instead experienced its worst annual loss since 2015.
The oil market’s sudden-about face in the fourth quarter has ended a 2½-year recovery for oil prices following the 2014-2016 downturn. Analysts expect oil prices to rebound next year, but the geopolitical risks that have weighed on the market throughout 2018 will remain a big variable in the New Year.
U.S. crude is trading around $45 a barrel, on pace to end the year down 25 percent. At $53 a barrel, international benchmark Brent crude is down about 21 percent in 2018. The declines mark the first annual loss and the biggest yearly drop since 2015, when both contracts fell more than 30 percent.