Thursday, December 31, 2009

Crude Oil to Record the Strongest Annual Gain in a Decade

Crude oil edged higher to settle at 79.28, up +0.5%, Wednesday as the EIA report showed inventory draw in crude and major oil products. Tension between Iran and the Western world, potential oil exports from OPEC and market optimism after strong macro-economic data also boosted price. The February contract, currently trading at 79.6, is prone to record the third weekly gain. Crude oil price, surging almost +80% in 2009, will probably record the biggest annual increase since 1999. According to the US Energy Department, crude inventory drew -1.54 mmb to 326 mmb in the week ended December 25. Cushing stock also drew -0.19 mmb. For oil products, distillate stockpile dipped -2.06 mmb (consensus: -2.23 mmb) to 159.3 mmb. This an initial sign of moderation in the pace of inventory draw. Gasoline inventory also dropped -0.37 mmb to 216 mmb.

Decline in inventory levels in recent weeks has been sending a positive signal to investors that the energy market is improving. This is also the major reason for oil's rally these 2 weeks. However, details in fuel demand suggest we should be more cautious. 4 week averaged demand for gasoline was 9.024M bpd, compared with 9.041M bpd the same period in 2009, while the 4-week averaged demand for distillate, at 3.689M bpd , was -8.8% below the same period last year. Since the protest began on December 27 in Tehran, the Iranian government has detained about 1000 people. At the same time, Iran accuses Western countries of spurring the demonstrations. Oil prices usually get supported when turmoil occurs, especially in the Middle East as the region in rich in oil. Iran, the world's second largest oil producer, may threaten to suspend oil exports if the tension escalates.....Read the entire article.

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