Monday, October 25, 2010

Crude Oil Declines as Forecast Gain in U.S. Inventories Signals Slowing Demand

Crude oil declined in New York on speculation slowing fuel demand will result in higher inventories in the U.S., the world’s largest crude consumer. Futures earlier dropped as much as 0.6 percent as the dollar index gained, limiting the investment appeal of commodities. An Energy Department report tomorrow may show crude inventories rose 1.5 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg News analyst survey. “If you look at the inventory expectations, crude supplies should climb, so fundamentally there’s not much support,” said Serene Lim, an energy and commodity strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Singapore. “The market will be determined by the price moves in the dollar.”

The December contract fell as much as 47 cents to $82.05 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $82.20 at 2 p.m. in Singapore. Yesterday, it advanced 83 cents to $82.52, the highest close since Oct. 18. Prices are up 3.6 percent this year. Workers at three French oil refineries voted to return to work as a contested pension bill neared parliamentary approval and the government warned that fuel shortages were hurting the economy. The nation’s eight remaining active plants are either on strike or shut because of a lack of crude. The dollar traded at $1.3972 against the euro from $1.3965 in New York yesterday, having earlier risen to $1.3908. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against six major currencies, rose as much as 0.3 percent, and was little changed at 77.091 from 77.103 yesterday.

Strikes ‘Psychological’
“The oil market might be taking a bit of a breather,” said ANZ’s Lim. “I doubt the strikes had a huge effect overall on the market, but it was more a psychological impact from the shutdowns.” U.S. gasoline supplies probably climbed by 625,000 barrels last week, according to the estimates in the Bloomberg survey. Supplies of distillate fuel probably decreased for a fifth week as distributors took deliveries before winter and exports to Europe increased, the Bloomberg News survey shows. Brent crude for December settlement traded at $83.34 a barrel, down 20 cents, on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London. Yesterday it rose 58 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $83.54.

Bloomberg Reporter Christian Schmollinger can be contacted at

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