Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Oil tumbles again; prices fall over $10 in 2 days

Dari tempo interaktif

Harga Minyak Mentah Kembali Turun
Kamis, 17 Juli 2008 | 08:38 WIB

TEMPO Interaktif, New York:Harga minyak dunia masih pada posisi stabil, lebih rendah US$ 10, sejak Rabu lalu.

Harga minyak mentah jenis light sweet crude untuk pengiriman Agustus turun US$ 4,14 menjadi US$ 134,6 per barel di New York Mercantile Exchanger. Sebelumnya, harga minyak jenis ini sempat menyentuh harga US$ 142.

Penurunan sebesar US$ 10,58 per barel dalam dua hari belakangan menandakan perubahan dramatis harga minyak mentah, karena dalam perdagangan Jumat pekan lalu harganya mencetak rekor lebih dari US$ 147 per barel. Kendati demikian harga pekan ini masih 80 persen lebih tinggi dari harga setahun lalu, dan 40 persen dari harga di awal tahun.

"Ini sebuah tanda, kemungkinan spekulan pasar telah kehilangan kekuatannya," kata President of Strategic Energy & Economic Research Inc. Michael Lynch seperti dilansir dari Associated Press, Rabu (16/7).

Harga minyak Brent pengiriman Agustus di bursa ICE Futures London turun US$ 2,56 menjadi US$ 136,19 per barel.

Penguatan dollar terhadap euro membuat para pedagang tak memiliki banyak alasan dalam penawaran. Melemahnya dollar telah menarik investor untuk membeli minyak dan komoditas lainnya di saat pembatasan terhadap inflasi dan pelemahan dollar, namun rangsangan itu hilang ketika dollar mulai menguat.

The Energy Information Administration melaporkan bawah suplai minyak mentah Amerika Serikat naik tiga juta barel atau satu persen pada minggu lalu. Suplai bensin juga naik tak terduga.

Menurut club mobil AAA, harga retail bensin di Amerika naik 0,5 sen menjadi US$ 4,114 per galon. Sedangkan harga solar naik satu sen menjadi US$ 4,839 per galon.


AP melaporkan

Oil tumbles again; prices fall over $10 in 2 days
By ADAM SCHRECK, AP Business Writer Wed Jul 16, 4:12 PM ET

NEW YORK - Oil prices settled sharply lower for the second time in a row Wednesday, leaving crude more than $10 cheaper in just two days of frenzied trading and prompting speculation that the hard-charging market may be running out of steam.

Light, sweet crude for August delivery fell $4.14 to settle at $134.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after earlier sinking as low as $132. The drop follows a $6.44 sell-off Tuesday, crude's biggest since the Gulf War.

The two-day slide of $10.58 a barrel marks a dramatic turnaround in crude prices, which as recently as Friday traded at record highs above $147 a barrel. But even with this week's sell-off, prices remain about 80 percent above where they were a year ago and up about 40 percent from the start of the year.

Analysts are unsure whether the drop represents a long-term shift in sentiment or simply a brief correction to crude's monthslong bull run. But the dizzying decline is prompting market veterans to ask how much support remains for such high prices.

"It's a sign that maybe the bull market is losing strength," said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research Inc.

Perhaps just as significant as the declines was the sudden increase in volatility. Prices whipsawed by more than $10 Tuesday and $7 Wednesday ahead of the expiration of options contracts this week.

"I think anyone you talk to would have to be surprised by the magnitude of these huge price swings. This is extreme price volatility that no one can predict," said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates. Such large up-and-down swings, he added, can indicate the market is nearing its top.

Sharply increased crude and gasoline supplies were the immediate cause of Wednesday's decline.

The Energy Information Administration reported that U.S. crude oil supplies rose by 3 million barrels, or 1 percent, last week. That is the opposite of the 3 million barrel draw analysts surveyed by energy research firm Platts expected. Gasoline supplies also leapt unexpectedly.

"The numbers were decidedly bearish on just about all fronts," Ritterbusch said.

Industry observers cautioned that prices could still bounce back, just as they have following large drops in recent weeks.

"I do expect this bubble to burst. Is this is it? It might be ... but I'm not ready to say so yet," analyst and trader Stephen Schork said.

A number of market participants speculated that at least some of the week's sell-off was the result of cash-strapped banks selling energy contracts to raise money for other needs.

And widely used computers programed to sell once prices fall to certain thresholds can accelerate declines, much as an avalanche gains steam the further it slides.

"It absolutely adds a cascading effect," Schork said.

Yet concerns are growing that high energy prices are leading to real shifts in consumer behavior that could cause demand to shrivel considerably.

The Labor Department said consumer prices shot up 1.1 percent last month, the second fastest pace in 26 years. Rising energy prices accounted for two-thirds of that increase, which was far worse than expected.

Testifying before Congress for the second day, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said central bank policymakers are facing "significant challenges" in righting the troubled U.S. economy, which is being buffeted by weak growth and inflation driven largely by rapidly rising food and energy prices.

"This is clearly a rough time," Bernanke said. "It is clear (economic) growth has been slow and the labor market is weak. So conditions are tough on average families."

American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, two of the three biggest U.S. carriers, each reported a loss of more than $1 billion in the second quarter, largely because of higher fuel costs.

"With each passing day, we are reading about more car companies cutting back on production, airlines slashing flights, and consumers driving less," said Edward Meir, an analyst at MF Global. "Of course, these are not new factors, and energy markets have ignored them for several months now as they have relentlessly pushed higher, but we suspect that as the pace of demand destruction accelerates it will be harder to ignore."

The dollar strengthened against the euro, giving traders less reason to go bargain shopping in the suddenly discounted energy market. A weaker dollar has enticed investors to buy oil and other commodities as hedges against inflation and a weakening dollar, but that incentive diminishes when the dollar gains ground.

It will be some time before any declines — assuming they hold — show up at the gas pump, where prices continued to advance.

U.S. retail gasoline prices added half a cent to $4.114 per gallon, according to auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express. Diesel prices also marched higher, up nearly a penny to $4.839 a gallon.

In other Nymex trading, heating oil futures shed 7.8 cents to settle at $3.841 a gallon while gasoline futures lost 10.54 cents to settle at $3.2794 a gallon. Natural gas futures fell 7.9 cents to settle at $11.398 per 1,000 cubic feet.

August Brent crude fell $2.56 to settle at $136.19 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

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