Friday, May 7, 2010

Crude Falls on Concern European Debt Crisis Will Derail Economic Recovery

Crude oil tumbled, heading for its biggest weekly decline in 16 months, on concern Europe’s debt crisis will derail the global economic recovery. Futures dropped as much as 3.4 percent as equities fell amid speculation Greece’s debt crisis will spread to other countries. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said euro area countries must speed up efforts to tighten financial regulation and pursue budget consolidation. “The continued problems over in Europe seem to be infecting the rest of the world,” said Sean Brodrick, a natural resource analyst with Weiss Research in Jupiter, Florida. “If this thing continues it could really hurt the chances of a global recovery.”

Crude oil for June delivery fell $1.84, or 2.4 percent, to $75.27 a barrel at 12:32 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, it touched $74.51 a barrel, the lowest level since Feb. 16. Futures are down 13 percent for the week, the biggest drop since the week ended Dec. 19, 2008. Oil settled at an 11 week closing low of $77.11 in New York yesterday after the euro fell against the dollar and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost as much as 998.5 points, a 9.2 percent plunge that was the biggest intraday percentage loss since 1987. Futures touched $87.15 a barrel on May 3, the highest level since October 2008.

Shakeout ‘Overdue’
“The oil market was overdue for a shakeout like this,” said Addison Armstrong, director of market research at Tradition Energy, a Stamford, Connecticut based procurement adviser. “Eighty seven dollars certainly wasn’t a justifiable level based on the fundamentals and if you start thinking about the potential ramifications for economic growth of what’s happening in Europe.”

A 110 billion euro ($140 billion) aid package to avoid a default by Greece has failed to prevent bond yields from rising, driving up borrowing costs for countries including Spain and Portugal. Moody’s Investors Service yesterday placed Portugal on review for a possible downgrade.

U.S. payrolls jumped 290,000 last month, more than the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, after a revised 230,000 increase in March that was larger than initially estimated, figures from the Labor Department in Washington showed today.

If commodities and equities “struggle to move higher in the wake of this positive report, the specter of bearish forces for growth may be larger than participants are currently pricing in and could push commodity and equity markets lower,” said Jason Schenker, president of Prestige Economics LLC, an Austin, Texas-based energy consultant, in a report today.

Equities Fall
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.7 percent to 1,119.9 at 11:38 a.m. after plunging as much as 3 percent. The Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of 19 commodities fell 0.7 percent to 260.41, the weakest since Feb. 5. Ten of the commodities retreated, led by cocoa, crude and heating oil. “The market is not getting over the concerns of where we end up after the Greece situation gets resolved,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Round Earth Capital, a New York based hedge fund that focuses on food and energy. Brent oil for June settlement declined $1.60, or 2 percent, to $78.23 a barrel on the London based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Reporters Margot Habiby and Aaron Clark can be reached at and


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