Crude futures fall on China worries, Saudi supply pledge

20 September 2012 10:43  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Crude futures fell on Thursday, declining by more than $1/bbl at one stage, following release of disappointing Chinese manufacturing data, with a stronger US dollar and Saudi Arabia’s plans to raise oil output adding further pressure on the market.

At 09:00 GMT, November Brent crude on London’s ICE futures exchange was trading at $107.58/bbl, down by 61 cents/bbl from the previous close. Earlier, the North Sea benchmark fell to a session low of $107.18/bbl, down by $1.01/bbl.

October NYMEX light sweet crude futures (WTI) were trading at $91.47/bbl, down by 51 cents/bbl from the previous close. Earlier, the US benchmark fell to a session low of $90.66/bbl, down by $1.32/bbl.

Crude prices have fallen sharply since last week after hitting their highest levels since early May on 14 September, when November ICE Brent futures hit $117.95/bbl and October NYMEX WTI futures hit $100.42/bbl during intraday trade.

HSBC’s flash purchasing managers index (PMI) for China rose to 47.8 in September from a nine-month low in August of 47.6. However, the September figure was the 11th consecutive month that PMI registered a reading below 50, indicating that the manufacturing sector in China was still contracting.

It was unclear if the People’s Bank of China will follow the moves by the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan, to introduce further monetary stimulus measures to boost the Chinese economy.

The US dollar continued to strengthen on Thursday as investor looked for a safe haven on concerns over China and recent worries that Spain may soon request a bailout from the European Central Bank (ECB).

A stronger US dollar makes dollar-denominated commodities like crude less attractive to overseas investors.

Promises from Saudi Arabia to raise crude production in order to counter sharp rises in oil prices and comments from OPEC Secretary General that there was no global shortage of oil have served to reduce supply fears, which have contributed to recent price rises. 

Meanwhile, weekly data from the US Government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) released on Wednesday revealed a massive 8.5m-barrel build in crude stocks, which was well above forecast levels.

($1 = €0.77)

By: James Dennis
+65 6780 4327

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