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U.S. oil prices dropped for a ninth consecutive session on Thursday, falling into a bear market, on further signs of growing supply even as data showed record Chinese oil imports.

Crude prices have plunged over the last five weeks, buffeted by October’s broader market slump, signs of deteriorating demand and rising output from key producers.

The decline continued earlier this week after the Trump administration announced it would issue waivers to eight countries, allowing them to continue importing Iranian crude for the next 180 days. The United States restored sanctions on Iran’s energy, banking and shipping industries on Monday.

“As a result, oil supplies are going to be higher than the market anticipated,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. “So it seems to me that the loss of Iranian supplies is only going to be between 1 and 1.2 million barrels per day, and the OPEC and non-OPEC producers have more than made up for that.”

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as low as $60.40 a barrel on Thursday, briefly wiping out its gains for the year. The contract settled $1, or 1.6 percent, lower at $60.67. That’s down 21 percent from last month’s four-year high of $76.90, putting WTI in bear market territory.

Brent crude fell $1.33, or 1.9 percent, to $70.74 a barrel at 2:30 p.m. ET. The international benchmark hit a session low of $70.60, tumbling 18.6 percent from its nearly four-year high of $86.74 on Oct. 3.

U.S. gasoline futures are also trading in bear market territory, down nearly 28 percent from their 52-week high.

Prices fell to a nearly eight-month low on Wednesday after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported the seventh consecutive weekly increase in U.S. crude stockpiles.

U.S. output also hit an all-time high at 11.6 million barrels per day last week, according to preliminary figures released by the EIA. If confirmed during revisions, it would more firmly establish the United States as the world’s top oil producer.

The EIA forecast this week that U.S. oil production will average 12.1 million bpd in 2019, marking an upward revision from its last projection.

The other producers in the top three, Saudi Arabia and Russia, have been dialing up production since June.

“All three of them are continuing to pump at record levels, that’s been … part of what’s causing oil to move into a bear market,” Tamar Essner, director of energy and utilities at Nasdaq Corporate Solutions, told CNBC’s “Worldwide Exchange” on Thursday.

“I think the market is grappling with some fundamental uncertainties,” she said. “We don’t know if we are oversupplied or undersupplied.”

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Oil's recent price surge won't last, economists predict

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Sluggish global growth and an increase in U.S. output both signal the end of the recent rally in oil prices, economic research consultancy Capital Economics has suggested.

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US GDP grows by 3.2% in the first quarter

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The U.S. economy grew at a faster pace than expected in the first quarter and posted its best growth to start a year in six years.

First-quarter GDP expanded by 3.2% in the first quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said in its initial read of the economy for that period. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected the U.S. economy increased by 2.5% in the first quarter. It was the first time since 2013 that first-quarter GDP topped 3%.

Exports rose 3.7% in the first quarter, while imports decreased by 3.7%. Economic growth also got a lift from strong investments in intellectual property products. Those investments expanded by 8.6%.

“The upside beat was helped by net trade (exports jumped while imports contracted sharply) and inventories which combined contributed almost 170 bps of the rise,” wrote Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group. “Personal spending though, the biggest component was up just 1.2%, two tenths more than expected as an increase in spending on services and nondurable goods offset a decline in spending on durable goods.”

Disposable personal income increased by 3%, while prices increased by 1.3% when excluding food and energy. Overall prices climbed by 0.8% in the first quarter.

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Trump tariff threat on autos could bring a German recession

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A trade war between the United States and Europe is coming and the fallout could tip Germany into recession, according to analysts at German lender Commerzbank.

EU leaders have now agreed to negotiate fresh trade arrangements with Washington but have restricted the talks to industrial goods only. That scope of debate is likely to irk President Donald Trump who is under pressure from Congress to win access to EU agriculture markets.

In February, Trump said he would impose tariffs on cars imported from the European Union if U.S. talks with the bloc can’t produce a new deal. The EU has since threatened to tax 20 billion euros ($22 billion) worth of U.S. goods.

Both sides have cautiously hung on to existing agreements, promising to take no action until talks are concluded.

In a research report Friday, analysts at Commerzbank said the chances of a trade deal that satisfied both European leaders and U.S. lawmakers looked slim. It noted that France, holding a powerful voice in the corridors of Brussels, had already erected a serious barrier.

“President (Emmanuel) Macron has already voted against opening negotiations with the U.S. because the U.S. is no longer participating in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement,” noted Commerzbank.

The bank said on the other side of the ledger, U.S. Congress has made it clear that it will not rubberstamp any agreement that excludes agriculture — a tricky proposition given many EU nations fiercely protect prices paid to their farmers.

“It is therefore likely that Donald Trump will announce the imposition of duties — probably at rates of 25% — on imports of autos and auto parts from the EU,” said Commerzbank.

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