Oil drops from four-month high amid U.S., European debt talks

Stability Mechanism

Finance ministers are debating whether the 500 billion euro ($666 billion) European Stability Mechanism should take over earlier bank bailouts that were routed through governments, and what to do with so-called legacy assets. A European Union aide who briefed reporters defined those as loans already on a bank’s balance sheet that could later cause difficulties.

The EU accounted for 16% of the world’s oil consumption in 2011, and the U.S. used 21%, according to BP Plc’s Statistical Review of World Energy.

China’s commercial crude inventories at the end of December fell to the lowest level in nine months and gasoline stockpiles rose to the highest in almost two years after the nation boosted crude-processing to a record.

Chinese Inventories

Crude supplies, excluding emergency reserves, dropped 3.6% from a month earlier, a report from Xinhua news agency’s China Oil, Gas & Petrochemicals newsletter showed today. Inventories dropped to 29.15 million metric tons, the lowest since March, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Gasoline stockpiles gained 8.5% to 7.02 million tons, the highest since February 2011.

Net-long positions in WTI held by money managers, including hedge funds, commodity pools and commodity-trading advisers, jumped by 11,183 futures and options combined, or 6.7%, to 179,249, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Jan. 18 Commitments of Traders report. Bullish gasoline wagers were cut by 2,067 futures and options combined, or 2.8%, to 73,093.

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