Saturday, September 17, 2011

Brent Crude Dips After Platts Changes Formula

US benchmark crude contracts fell on concerns that the economic recovery in the US is slowing, while Brent crude was on the rise in London as the outlook for the European debt crisis brightened. However, the trends changed late in the week as Brent fell after Platts decided to change the way it calculates the benchmark price. Oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) were hit by a slew of downbeat US data that came out late in the week. Thursday’s employment report from the US Labor Department revealed s surprise increase in US jobless claims to 428,000 last week.

Manufacturing data that was released on the same day also disappointed, showing a decline in the Empire State index from minus-7.7 in August to minus-8.8 in September, while the Philly Fed rose 13.2 to minus-17.5 in September, but still missed expectations. In the meantime, Brent contracts were on the rise, enjoying support from reassuring statements from European politicians that Greece will not quit the euro zone and the EU will go as far as necessary to prevent it from going into a default.

Demand for Brent was also supported by lingering concerns over supplies from the North Sea following a series of delays over the past few weeks. However, Brent futures fell sharply late on Friday after Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw Hill, said it will change the Brent crude pricing formula sooner than expected. The changes to the benchmark that is used to price two third of the world’s oil will come into effect in January 2012 instead of the first quarter of 2013 as was planned before.

Platts has decided to change the pricing benchmark due to a reduction in Brent crude supplies in recent years, which has made it easier for traders to manipulate the market. The Brent crude prices will now be assessed based on contracts signed over a 16 day period instead of the previous 12 day span. “Recent events in the market, including disruptions to the Forties pipeline system and shortfalls in cargo deliveries, show clearly that timely action is needed to maintain the strength of the physical benchmark,” said vice president of editorial at Platts Dan Tanz.

Posted courtesy of Pro Active Investors

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