Oil prices fall on eurozone, US concerns

21st May 2010, Comments 0 comments

World oil prices fell on Friday, at the end of a week of heavy losses on concerns over Europe's debt crisis, a stuttering US and the strengthening dollar, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in July, fell 57 cents to 70.23 dollars a barrel in midday trade. The June contract expired Thursday at 68.01 dollars.

London's Brent North Sea crude for July sank 32 cents to 71.52 dollars.

Oil dived on Thursday to near 10-month lows as stock markets slumped on eurozone debt crisis concerns and a surprise worsening in jobs data in the United States, the world's biggest energy consumer.

New York crude fell as low as 64.24 dollars, its lowest level since July 30, 2009, while Brent oil hit 70.20 dollars, a level last seen in early February.

"Concerns over the outlook for Europe continued to buffet markets," analysts from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a note.

"Oil market sentiment is still being depressed by concerns over European growth," they said.

VTB Capital's Andrey Kryuchenkov said it was "the same old story of yet another week of losses as investors continue to pull out of riskier assets."

Global stock markets slumped further on Friday as the prospect of Wall Street financial reforms also undercut investor confidence.

The biggest drop in more than a year in New York on Thursday triggered fresh turmoil in Asia and Europe amid mounting anxiety about the global economic outlook.

Long-term concerns about the sustainability of the US recovery resurfaced after the Labor Department said initial jobless claims totalled 471,000 in the week to May 15, up 5.6 percent from the prior week's revised 446,000 and against forecasts for another modest drop.

"The unemployment figure showed a jump ... which was unexpected," said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. "Crude oil has just been following the stock markets down.

"If you are not creating jobs, it is going to impact petroleum products demand over the next months," Lipow said.

Oil began the week in negative territory, falling to 2010 lows on fears about future demand and the strong dollar.

Lower prices reflected concerns over the Europe, despite an EU-IMF rescue package worth almost a trillion dollars designed to prevent the Greek debt crisis from spreading.

The market also tumbled as fears about massive debt and high eurozone public deficits sent the euro slumping to a four-year low against the dollar.

The European single currency staggered as low as 1.2144 dollars on Wednesday as markets were also shocked by Germany's unilateral move to impose restrictions on what it termed highly speculative trading practices.

A stronger US unit makes dollar-priced crude more expensive for buyers using weaker currencies, denting demand, which leads to lower oil prices.

"The energy market is very nervous and volatile, struggling to find some support and direction for the short-term," said Sucden analyst Myrto Sokou.

"Investors might remain cautious and wait for further signs of the European economic conditions."


© 2010 AFP

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