Oil traders try to make sense of confluence of reports

Report Contortions

It is a dilemma. What economic report should we focus on? Or should we just count barrels. This is the question that traders have to ask as the market has a mountain of supply and is either in desperate need of demand or some massive economic stimuli pick me up.

The much awaited jobs report blew away expectations on Friday yet a plunge in consumer confidence raised fears about our future. Then China’s factory output surged 10.1 percent in November and retail sales rose 14.9 percent. But then China's exports growth slowed sharply to a much lower than expected 2.9 percent in November. Is it any wonder why we are in a trading range? If that wasn’t enough, overnight Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said he lost support and will resign and we haven’t even started talking about real barrels of oil.

Oil inventories surged last week and we should see a continuation of bountiful supply. Look for crude to be up 1.0 million, gas up 2.0 million barrels, distillates up 2 million and runs steady.

Of course the increase in supply won’t make for a happy OPEC meeting but there is little that they can do about it. Rising U.S. production and the possibility of lost market share should keep them in line. In Venezuela Hugo Chavez picks a successor, a sign that his cancer may be terminal. That raises the possibility of turmoil in that country and may be an interesting sidebar at OPEC.

As far as the rest of the geopolitical story, it seems that President Morsi backed down a bit when the Egyptian military sent him a message. The BBC says that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has ordered the military to maintain security and protect state institutions in the run-up to a controversial referendum on a new constitution. The army has also been given the power of arrest. Mr. Morsi has tried to calm public anger by annulling a decree giving him huge powers but rejected a call to scrap the Dec. 15 constitutional vote. Opposition leaders rejected the move and called for protests on Tuesday.

Reuters is reporting that South Korean refiners will cut imports of Iranian crude during the six months leading to May by about a fifth from a year earlier, to avoid sanctions by Washington, government and industry sources told Reuters on Monday. Last week the United States granted 180-day waivers on Iran sanctions to China, India, South Korea and some other countries after they cut oil purchases from the Islamic Republic. "The cut in next year's imports is expected to be by about 20 percent year on year," an industry source who has direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

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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