Thursday, October 9, 2014 9:40 pm
Oil prices tumbled Thursday in Europe as fresh evidence of economic weakness in the eurozone, especially in Germany, added to concerns of slowing global growth and abundant crude supplies.
The benchmark US futures contract, West Texas Intermediate for November delivery, fell by $1.54 for the second day in a row, settling at $85.77 a barrel, the lowest level since mid-December 2012.
The Nigerian grade Brent crude for delivery in November, the international benchmark, dropped below $90 to a two-year low of $89.90 a barrel, shedding $1.33 in London trade. It was the lowest close since June 21, 2012.
“The market is continuing its slide on the back of poor economic news in Europe and in particular Germany, and worries of significantly slowing growth,” said Andy Lipow of Lipow Oil Associates.
Crude futures had struck similar lows on Wednesday after the weekly US petroleum inventory report showed mounting stockpiles in top oil consumer the United States, signalling weakening demand.
New data showing a sharp drop in exports from the eurozone’s two biggest economies, Germany and France, was compounded by sharply lowered growth forecasts for Germany from four leading German think tanks.
“All of a sudden, a recession for Germany looks imminent, which does not bode well for the eurozone, as a whole, with Germany being the economic powerhouse of the single currency bloc.”
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde warned Thursday that there was a 35-40 percent chance of the eurozone slipping back into recession if action is not taken to prevent it.
The oil market remained under pressure from ample global supplies. On Wednesday the Department of Energy said US crude reserves leaped by 5.0 million barrels in the week ending October 3.
“Most if not all of the recent news flow has been price-negative, with demand forecasts being revised lower while supply continues to rise,” said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen.
“Supply gains are being posted by both the US and among OPEC members who continue to produce more than their stated target of 30 million barrels per day.”
The slump in prices for crude, is better illustrated with the fall in OPEC Basket price, a mix of a dozen different crude oil grades from the OPEC members ranging from heavy Venezuelan Merey crude to light Algerian Saharan Blend.
It fell to $88.32 a barrel, just below the previous mid-2012 low of $88.74. It is likely to drop again on Friday after a further slump in oil futures.
The 20 percent slide in the basket price since mid-June mirrors the decline in global marker Brent, which has dropped by more than $25 a barrel. But the Basket offers a slightly more accurate reading of the impact on OPEC members, and thus its decline may be even more alarming to the cartel.
Some OPEC members have already begun talking about the need to cut production to shore up prices, but core Gulf members such as Saudi Arabia have shown little inclination to take any action prior to the group’s Nov. 27 meeting.
The current composition of the OPEC Basket is: Saharan Blend (Algeria), Girassol (Angola), Oriente (Ecuador), Iran Heavy (Islamic Republic of Iran), Basra Light (Iraq), Kuwait Export (Kuwait), Es Sider (Libya), Bonny Light (Nigeria), Qatar Marine (Qatar), Arab Light (Saudi Arabia), Murban (UAE) and Merey (Venezuela).