Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oil Falls a Third Day on Concerns Over China, U.S. Economies

June 30 (Bloomberg) -- Oil dropped for a third day on concern over weakening economic growth in China and as confidence declined more than forecast among consumers in the U.S., the world’s biggest energy user.

Oil lost 3 percent yesterday after the Conference Board said its leading economic index for China rose more slowly in April than previously estimated. The board’s U.S. confidence index in June was lower than all forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped to its lowest level since October.

“Crude has been shellacked due to confidence around the world eroding,” said Jonathan Barratt, managing director at Commodity Broking Services Pty in Sydney. “The revision in confidence was a concern.”

Crude oil for August delivery dropped 43 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $75.51 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 9:24 a.m. Sydney time. Yesterday, the contract fell $2.31 to $75.94, the biggest one-day drop since June 4.

Oil is heading for its first quarterly decline since 2008, losing 9.9 percent since the end of March. Futures have fallen 4.9 percent this year.

The measure of China’s economy compiled by the New York- based Conference Board rose 0.3 percent in April, less than the 1.7 percent gain it reported June 15. The research group corrected the outlook, saying in an e-mailed statement that the previous reading contained a “calculation error” for total floor space on which construction began.

Consumer Confidence

The board reported its U.S. confidence index slumped to 52.9 in June from a revised 62.7 in May, as Americans became pessimistic about the outlook for the labor market and the economy. The median forecast of 71 economists’ estimates in the Bloomberg survey called for a decline to 62.5.

President Barack Obama said after meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke yesterday that the U.S. economy is strengthening and recovering from the worst recession since the 1930s. Still, job losses remain a “great concern” and the economy faces “headwinds” because of nervousness in the U.S. about Europe’s debt crisis.

Oil also fell on predictions that Tropical Storm Alex, moving northwest across the southern Gulf of Mexico, will miss oil-producing areas. It’s forecast to make landfall in Mexico, just south of the U.S. border, late today as a hurricane, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Crude Supplies

U.S. crude inventories declined 3.4 million barrels last week, according to a report from the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute. An Energy Department report today may also show supplies fell.

Stockpiles probably dropped 1 million barrels in the week ended June 25 from 365.1 million the prior week, according to the median estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News before tomorrow’s government report. It would be the first decline in three weeks.

Oil-supply totals from the Petroleum Institute and Energy Department moved in the same direction 75 percent of the time over the past four years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Brent crude for August delivery fell $2.15, or 2.8 percent, to $75.44 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London yesterday.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oil Trades Near $78 as Threat From Tropical Storm Alex Eases

June 29 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil traded near $78 a barrel in New York after declining on concerns slower economic growth may curb energy demand and skepticism that production from Gulf of Mexico wells will be disrupted by a tropical storm.

Oil dropped from a seven-week high yesterday as U.S. forecasters projected that Tropical Storm Alex will move across the southern Gulf and make landfall as a hurricane July 1 in Mexico. Group of 20 leaders responded to the European debt crisis during their weekend summit in Toronto with deficit- reduction targets.

“Most of the rhetoric from the G20 meeting is for continued fiscal austerity in the big developed economies and that means weaker growth going forward,” said Ben Westmore, a minerals and energy economist at National Australia Bank Ltd. in Melbourne. “What seems to have supported oil prices has been the news of storms in the Gulf, tightening some of the supply side of the market. Supply is looking more positive now.”

Crude oil for August delivery was at $78.24 a barrel, down 1 cent, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 10:41 a.m. Sydney time. Yesterday, the contract dropped 61 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $78.25. Futures have dropped 1.5 percent since the start of the year.

The Gulf is home to about 30 percent of U.S. oil and 12 percent of its natural gas production. It also has seven of the 10 busiest U.S. ports, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The region accounts for about half of U.S. refining capacity, according to the Energy Department.

Crude Supplies

“Oil was probably oversold towards the end of May, early June,” National Australia Bank’s Westmore said. “Now we’re getting to a point around the high $70s which is probably in line with what you’d expect, based on the fundamentals.”

U.S. crude oil supplies probably fell 900,000 barrels last week from 365.1 million the prior week, according to the median estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News before an Energy Department report tomorrow. It would be the first drop in three weeks. Gasoline inventories probably slipped 400,000 barrels from 217.6 million the prior week.

Oil also declined yesterday as the dollar strengthened against the euro for the first time in four days, curbing the appeal of commodities as an alternative investment. The dollar was little changed at $1.2284 at 9:48 a.m. in Sydney.

Consumer spending in the U.S. rose more than forecast in May, a sign households are gaining confidence in the recovery and the job market. Purchases advanced 0.2 percent after holding steady the previous month, the Commerce Department reported yesterday. The median estimate of 61 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News predicted a 0.1 percent increase in spending.

Brent crude for August delivery traded at $77.65 a barrel, up 6 cents, on the ICE exchange in London at 10:40 a.m. Sydney time. Yesterday, the contract fell 53 cents, or 0.7 percent, to settle at $77.59.

Soybeans Rise as Midwest Rain Reduced Area U.S. Farmers Planted

June 28 (Bloomberg) -- Soybeans rose, erasing an earlier decline, on speculation that two weeks of excessive rain have reduced the number of acres planted in the U.S., the biggest exporter of the oilseed.

Some Midwest fields got more than 9 inches (23 centimeters) of rain in the past two weeks, and Iowa, the biggest grower, is headed for the wettest June since at least 1895, T-Storm Weather in Chicago said in a report. The precipitation may mean fewer soybean acres than the 78.1 million forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in March.

“There is a material loss in planted area” from northeast Nebraska to northwest Ohio, said Roy Huckabay, the executive vice president at the Linn Group, a brokerage in Chicago. “Soybean planting probably fell to 76.5 million acres.”

Soybean futures for November delivery gained 6 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $9.18 a bushel at 1:12 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, after dropping 0.4 percent to $9.0825. The most-active contract slipped 2 percent last week, the eighth decline in nine weeks.

The soybean crop in the U.S., the world’s largest grower, was valued at $31.8 billion last year, second only to corn at $48.6 billion, government figures show.