Global stock and commodity markets got slammed as US jobs disappoint and France elects a socialist. François Hollande, who wants to tax the rich and says that “austerity does not have to be inevitable” is increasing odds of another Greek like crisis, will take the helm in France. While some say he is more of a centrist than a hardcore socialist, fears are strong that this could create more turmoil in Europe and keep market volatility and crisis bond yields in Europe high. Austerity is out and spending is in and the risk of default will rise throughout other member states.
The oil market, already reeling from the weak jobs report, sold off more on fears that uncertainty in Europe will hurt demand. Perhaps more spending by France will help demand but at first glance, the market is not buying that argument. They believe this is a step backward and will hurt demand and make the glut of oil supply look a lot bigger.
If speculators and hedge funds are supposed to drive price, how come they have been so wrong lately? Reuters News reported that funds and big speculators boosted their bullish positions on U.S. crude oil price by the most since October in the week to May 1, just before the steepest fall in crude this year, regulatory data showed on Friday, May 4. But the market has tumbled over the past three days, diving 7% in the biggest such drop since early October. So I guess that speculators don’t drive prices, unless of course you assume that they want to lose money.
The Energy Information Agency reported that U.S. production of biodiesel was a record 109 million gallons in December 2011. Production came from 103 biodiesel plants with operable capacity of 2.1 billion gallons per year. Biodiesel production for all of 2011 was 967 million gallons which was the highest production recorded since tracking started in 2001. Annual biodiesel production was 516 million gallons in 2009. Production fell to only 343 million gallons in 2010 before rebounding to 967 million gallons in 2011.
Dow Jones reports India's Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Monday removed the excise tax on sales of all gold jewelry, which had earlier triggered countrywide protests by retailers and brought business to a halt in the world's largest gold consumer. The budget had imposed a 0.3% tax on most gold jewelry sales.