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Oil falls to around $71 a barrel

This article was posted on Oct 22, 2008 and is filed under Market Outlook

Oil fell over $1 to around $71 a barrel on Wednesday, extending a 4 per cent slide in the previous session, on mounting worries that output cuts by OPEC will not be enough to offset slackening energy demand in leading consumers.

Expectations that a report from the US Energy Information Administration, due for release on Wednesday at 1435 GMT, would show a rise in crude stocks and product inventories also weighed on oil prices.

US crude for December delivery was down $1.05 at $71.13 by 0239 GMT. November crude expired and settled down $3.36, or 4.5 per cent, at $70.89 on Tuesday, wiping all of Monday’s gains. London Brent crude fell 87 cents to $68.85.

“Concerns over weakening oil demand have dampened the oil price, even though the OPEC meeting is expected to lower production targets,” David Moore, commodities strategist from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said in a morning note.

The slide occurred as Asian stocks fell on Wednesday, tracking losses in US markets on concerns that corporate earnings could be hit by slower consumer demand and that the global economy might be sliding towards recession.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei average was down 2.8 per cent, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 down 2 per cent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng opened down 1.1 per cent.

INVENTORY OUTLOOK

The price of oil has slid 50 per cent since hitting a record high above $147 in mid-July. It briefly touched a 16-month low of $68.57 last week on worries that the financial crisis would slash energy demand in the United States, the world’s largest energy consumer, and other industrial countries.

A Reuters poll of US inventory data due out later on Wednesday calls for crude oil to show a 2.6 million barrel build. Also forecast is a 100,000 increase in distillates and a 2.8 million barrel build in gasoline stocks.

US weekly retail gasoline demand to Oct. 17 fell 6.4 per cent year-on-year, Mastercard Advisors said Tuesday, though it rose compared with the previous week.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was due to meet in Vienna on Friday and is expected to reduce output to defend prices and temper the effects of the financial crisis.

OPEC Secretary General Abdullah al-Badri has led the call for output cuts, telling reporters on Tuesday that the world would face a huge oversupply of oil next year, if leading producers failed to cut supply.

Though oil prices staged a strong rally earlier this week on expectations that OPEC would make significant cut to output, fears of a global recession have returned to haunt commodities.

The current US economic downturn could be worse than the 1990-91 recession, with growth restrained for as long as one to three years, a top Federal Reserve policy-maker said on Tuesday.

source: Financialexpress

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