Japanese debt downgrade keeps pressure on crude

Downgrade Dilemma

The oil market wanted to believe that the worst was over for the global economy, bouncing back from a six-month low but a downgrade of Japan means the market will have to struggle to find the lower end of our trading range. As the June contract trades its last, more drama will ensue as the market awaits talks with Iran and their nuclear program and perhaps a Japan downgrade won’t be enough to keep the oil down.

Oh Fitch, talk about the timing of you Japanese downgrade. Oil started to fall resuming its massive retreat as Fitch lowered sovereign debt rating to A+ with a negative outlook. Oil traders reacted as the dollar rallied and demand expectations again began to fall. It appears that oil may not have found the absolute low of its trading range just yet.

Of course the offset to that will be worries surrounding Iran and the nuclear talks. The market has been hopeful that a conflict can be avoided. This comes after the U.S. Senate keeps the pressure on by voting more sanctions on the sanction overwhelmed regime. Reuters News reported the U.S. Senate unanimously approved on Monday a package of new economic sanctions on Iran's oil sector just days ahead of a meeting in Baghdad between major world powers and Tehran.

The pressure became more apparent when Iran said that they would allow the International Atomic Energy agency weapon inspectors into sites that are suspected to be producing materials needed to make a nuclear weapon. CBS and the AP reported that, “despite some differences, a deal has been reached with Iran that will allow the U.N. nuclear agency to restart a long-stalled probe into suspicions that Tehran has secretly worked on developing nuclear arms, the U.N. nuclear chief said Tuesday. The news from International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano, who returned from Tehran on Tuesday, comes just a day before Iran and six world powers meet in Baghdad for negotiations and could present a significant turning point in the heated dispute over Iran's nuclear intentions. The six nations hope the talks will result in an agreement by the Islamic Republic to stop enriching uranium to a higher level that could be turned quickly into the fissile core of nuclear arms.”

Yet will oil stay optimistic if Iran at any point tries to limit what the inspectors can do? We have seen this cat and mouse game many times before not only with Iran, but the king of the cat and mouse, the late Saddam Hussein. While oil traders can remain optimistic, can Israel?

The Wall Street Journal is asking whether some investors wagering on natural-gas prices are losing their spark. The Journal says that, “natural-gas prices have jumped as much as 44% since sinking to decade lows last month. Much of that rally had been powered by rising demand from utilities, which had taken advantage of the low prices by using more natural gas instead of coal. But the higher prices are making coal competitive once again. Coal prices are down 22% since the start of the year."

The Journal says that utilities are continuously fine-tuning how much coal and natural gas they're burning to generate electricity. In recent months, they've increasingly favored natural gas due to the steep drop in natural gas prices. Utilities keep the breakdown of their fuel use a trade secret. How utilities will respond to higher gas prices has spurred debate among investors. Some analysts and traders say the rally threatens to erode natural gas recent gains in market share as utilities switch back to coal, and that could limit any further price increases. A must read in the Journal Today.

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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