Oil balancing European data with Middle East discord

Can turkeys lay eggs?

Well can turkeys lay eggs? We know that can't fly. Can they? Well even if they can't, there is plenty of egg laying going on whether you are focusing on the purchasing manger data in China and Europe and perhaps what may be a bit more disturbing is the subpar German bund auction.

China PMI readings fell to 48 from 51 in October, the biggest month over month drop in over 32, hitting the lowest level since March of 2009. Germany's 10-year auction was not well received to say the least with 35% of the bunds unsold. Still the yield in Germany at 1.98% is much better than say a country like Spain which currently is around 7%, yet Germany is supposed to be the strong economy in Europe. The lack of interest in this auction shows that the market believes it will be up to Germany to take on the debt of its less than, shall we say, industrious neighbors. Or is it because German Chancellor Angela Merkel challenged the effectiveness of the common European bond. Add to that a subpar reading on Eurozone manufacturing that surprisingly contracted, coming in less than expected at 47.9, below a forecast of 50.1. But the country’s flash services PMI was up at 51.4 against an expected 46.6. What was more disturbing was that industrial new orders showed the largest decline since records began in 2005, coming in at a -6.4 and was only expected to fall -2.4.

After data like that it is no wonder that the US is calling for more stress tests on our banks to head off what might be a crisis in the Eurozone that may be already impacting China and may threaten the economic data in the US that, as of late, has been overwhelmingly positive. With all of this uncertainty, is it any wonder why OPEC is trying to hang onto their existing production quotas despite the fact that if Europe rolls over and China slows, there might be a slowdown in demand. Oh sure, in the short-term despite the slowdown in manufacturing China demand will remain solid as the country is trying desperately to keep ahead of distillate demand ahead of winter. Yet perhaps the flattening of the crude curve may be signaling tougher demand times ahead.

OPEC Secretary General Abdalla Salem el-Badri told said, "Prices are comfortable" for both producers and consumers. What consumers he talked to I am not sure. They are probably not in China or Europe. Ali Naimi, the Oil Minister of Saudi Arabia, said he is "very happy" with oil prices. If Ali is happy then OPEC is happy. Don't you feel better?

Dow Jones says that in the first half of 2012, demand for OPEC crude is expected to fall by more than 1.3 million barrels a day, compared with the fourth quarter of 2011, to an average of 29.29 million barrels day, according to the group's latest report. That is lower than OPEC's current production of about 30 million barrels a day.

Now all of this bad economic news and uncertainty, while bearish, might have been wildly bearish if it were not for the worries surrounding Iran and Egypt. Sanctions and increased pressure on Iran, as well as the uncertainty surrounding Egypt, is raising the geopolitical risk premium. So instead of oil prices crashing we may see the market try to stabilize or rebound. That may be even more true because of the impending turkey day holiday as traders give thanks that they are not in Europe. Besides, with the geo-political risk, being short over an extended holiday with global supply risk possibilities does not go well with cranberries or pumpkin pie. We should see some short covering before the end of the day.

Products have been getting support because of the renewed interest in Brent as well as strong global demand for distillate and a rebounding appetite for gas ahead of the holiday. Today we get both the Energy Information Agency petroleum stocks as well as the natural gas storage. The American Petroleum Institute reported that crude oil inventories tanked by a stunning 5.57 million barrels. Yet what we lost in crude we gained in gas, rising by 5.42 million barrels. That increase is the bonus from strong distillate production that led to a drop of 886,000 barrels.

I want to take a moment to say thanks to all of my loyal customers and loyal readers of the Energy Report! You have made this a marvelous year and I thank you!

Phil Flynn is senior energy analyst for PFGBest Research and a Fox Business Network contributor. He can be reached at (800) 935-6487 or at pflynn@pfgbest.com.

About the Author
Phil Flynn

Senior energy analyst at The PRICE Futures Group and a Fox Business Network contributor. He is one of the world's leading market analysts, providing individual investors, professional traders, and institutions with up-to-the-minute investment and risk management insight into global petroleum, gasoline, and energy markets. His precise and timely forecasts have come to be in great demand by industry and media worldwide and his impressive career goes back almost three decades, gaining attention with his market calls and energetic personality as writer of The Energy Report. You can contact Phil by phone at (888) 264-5665 or by email at pflynn@pricegroup.com. Learn even more on our website at www.pricegroup.com.


Futures and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and may not be suitable for everyone. The information presented by The PRICE Futures Group is from sources believed to be reliable and all information reported is subject to change without notice.

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