February 8th, 2012

Crude oil rose to its highest in a week in New York after a report showed U.S. stockpiles shrank, signaling increased demand in the world’s biggest crude consumer.

West Texas Intermediate futures climbed to $99.65 a barrel, the highest since Jan. 31. Crude inventories fell 4.5 million barrels in the seven days ended Feb. 3, the first drop in three weeks, the American Petroleum Institute said after yesterday’s settlement. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News had forecast today’s Energy Department report would show supplies rose 2.5 million barrels.

“Inventories decreasing are adding to the supply concerns in the market,” said Sintje Boie, an analyst at HSH Nordbank in Hamburg. “Demand is quite strong because of the winter season. There are already supply worries from Iran’s threat to stop exports to Europe.”

Crude for March delivery advanced as much as $1.24, or 1.3 percent, to $99.65 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $99.28 at 12:50 p.m. London time. Yesterday, it increased $1.50 to $98.41, the highest settlement since Jan. 31. Prices are up 14 percent from a year ago.

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February 6th, 2012

Crude oil futures fell from the highest price in three days in New York on speculation Greece’s steps to avert a financial collapse may fall short, threatening Europe’s economy and demand for fuel.

Crude oil futures dropped as much as 0.9 percent before political leaders in Greece meet today to discuss a detailed agreement for meeting the terms of an international financial rescue. The premium of London-traded Brent oil to New York contracts rose for an eighth day after militants in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest crude producer, attacked and damaged a pipeline.

“The potential now is for disappointment out of Europe,” said Michael McCarthy, a chief market strategist at CMC Markets Asia Pacific Pty in Sydney. “I suspect this one is going to drag on a fair bit. This echoes the very disappointing rhetoric we’ve heard out of Europe many times before.”

Crude oil futures for March delivery slid as much as 89 cents to $96.95 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $96.97 at 4:32 p.m. Singapore time. The contract rose $1.48 to $97.84 on Feb. 3, the highest settlement since Jan. 31. Prices are down 1.9 percent this year.

Brent oil for March settlement on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange dropped as much as 68 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $113.90 a barrel. The European benchmark contract was at a premium of $17.06 to New York-traded West Texas Intermediate, the widest since Nov. 8. The spread was a record $27.88 on Oct. 14.

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January 30th, 2012

Crude oil futures dropped for a second day in New York on speculation that European Union leaders meeting today may fail to resolve the region’s debt crisis, while OPEC’s secretary-general said the market is well-supplied.

Crude oil futures slipped as much as 0.9 percent as stocks dropped and the dollar strengthened. EU chiefs will gather in Brussels today to complete a German-led deficit-control treaty and endorse a 500 billion-euro ($660 billion) rescue fund. Hedge funds and other large speculators increased wagers on rising crude prices, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Commitment of Traders report on Jan. 27 showed.

“The market is taking off risk before the meeting,” said Thina Saltvedt, an analyst at Nordea Bank AB in Oslo, who predicts Brent crude will average $107 a barrel this quarter. “Ahead of this meeting, sentiment is less optimistic.”

Crude oil futures for March delivery fell as much as 85 cents to $98.71 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was at $99.10 at 1:10 p.m. London time. The contract lost 14 cents to $99.56 on Jan. 27. Prices are 0.3 percent higher this month.

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January 25th, 2012

Crude oil futures rose after Federal Reserve officials said the U.S. benchmark interest rate will stay low until at least 2014 to bolster growth and cut unemployment, boosting fuel demand.

Crude oil futures advanced 0.5 percent as the Federal Open Market Committee extended its previous pledge to keep rates low at least until the middle of 2013. The Energy Department reported that total fuel consumption increased 7.5 percent to 19.2 million barrels a day in the week ended Jan. 20.

“We’re up because of the FOMC statement,” said Hamza Khan, an analyst with the Schork Group Inc., a consulting company in Villanova, Pennsylvania. “The Fed’s policy is good for the economic outlook. This points to steady growth ahead, which will be good for oil demand.”

Crude oil futures for March delivery rose 45 cents to settle at $99.40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures dropped to $97.53 early in the session. Prices are up 15 percent from a year earlier.

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January 24th, 2012

Crude Oil fell as a stalemate between European policy makers and Greek bondholders over debt relief increased concern that the euro-zone debt crisis will spread.

Crude oil futures dropped as much as 1.3 percent after European finance ministers balked at putting up more public money for Greece, calling on holders of Greek debt to provide greater relief. The International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for the global economy as Europe slips into a recession and growth cools in China and India.

“The problems with Greece and the bondholders have yet to be resolved, which continues to be a major worry,” said Chris Dillman, an analyst and broker at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. “The euro-zone concerns are sending equities lower and the dollar is stronger, which is putting downward pressure on oil.”

Crude oil futures for March delivery fell 64 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $98.94 a barrel at 11:04 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract slipped as much as $1.33 to $98.25. Prices are up 13 percent from a year earlier.

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January 23rd, 2012

Crude oil futures rose as the European Union announced a phased-in embargo of Iranian (OPCRIRAN) crude in an effort to contain the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

The ban will be implemented in stages by July 1, Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal told reporters today in Brussels. The region bought 450,000 barrels a day of Iran’s oil in the first half of 2011, U.S. Energy Department data show. EU finance heads are meeting to craft a long-term plan to tackle the area’s debt crisis.

“It remains to be seen how the embargo will be implemented and therefore how prices will react,” said Christopher Bellew, a senior broker at Jefferies Bache Ltd. in London. “Sanctions would of course be more effective if the EU can persuade other buyers to join them. And full implementation has been delayed to July 1. A lot can happen in five months.”

Crude oil brent for March settlement gained as much as $1.33, or 1.2 percent, to $111.19 a barrel and was at $111.80 a barrel at 1:37 p.m. on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

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