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OPEC says oil market ‘over-supplied’

Economic growth, Financial Events, Futures trading, Oil markets
By Paul Hodges on 10-Sep-2008

This morning, the blog is awarding itself a pat on the back. This is because, almost alone, it forecast in mid-July that oil prices ‘could easily fall $50/bbl to $100/bbl’ in the absence of any military action on Iran. And it had the courage to repeat this comment on 4 August.

It added that if prices ‘fall back, then working capital (stocks etc) will take a massive hit’. This forecast also seems to have come true. The whole supply chain appears to be filled with product, bought on the basis of a consensus forecast of $200/bbl oil by Xmas. This surplus may well take weeks, if not months, to clear properly.

The only ‘relief’ would be if oil prices suddenly rose again. But whilst OPEC agreed yesterday that the market was ‘over-supplied’, they formally agreed just a minor cut of 520kbd, effectively re-establishing the ‘official’ quotas. If OPEC had cut further, they would have risked a real shortage in Q4, as stocks now need to build in front of the northern winter.

Another major blog forecast has been that 2007-8 was shaping up to be a repeat of 1979-80. It first stated this view last October. It worried that, as in 1979, the consumer would initially appear to absorb a major rise in oil prices. Then, as in 1980, it would become apparent that this had been ‘the catalyst that finally causes the US consumer to cut back’.

US and Chinese stock markets were making record highs when this forecast was first made. But the blog worried that ‘the continuing problems in the banking sector may well turn off the tap of consumer, and maybe even corporate, lending’. Nearly a year later, stock markets are well off their highs, and the latest news from the financial sector indicates that the blog’s concern may prove well-founded.