Oil Gets No Love From Bernanke
Published on Thursday, 07 June 2012 17:08 Written by Todd Shriber
Following much-anticipated congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, oil futures faltered as hopes for additional quantitative easing waned. NYMEX-traded crude for July deliver lost 20 cents to settle at $84.82 a barrel. In London, Brent crude Brent crude lost 71 cents to finish the day at $99.93 a barrel. After Wednesday’s punishment, the U.S. dollar regained some ground today as the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish (NYSE: UUP) closed modestly higher.
Heading into Bernanke’s testimony today, traders were rampantly speculating the central bank chief would at least give some clues that would be supportive of additional monetary stimulus, also known as quantitative easing, but Bernanke did not oblige. While Bernanke did note the Fed stands ready to take action if the U.S. economic recovery falters and if the financial system becomes more strained, he did not signal that such actions are imminent.
Even with a surprise 25-basis point reduction in interest rates by China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer, crude could not find its way to a third consecutive higher close. The International Energy Agency projects China will be the engine of global oil demand growth this year, accounting for 400,000 barrels a day of an expected world-wide rise of 800,000 barrels a day, but IEA added European oil demand will drop by 300,000 barrels a day, while U.S. demand is expected to fall by 200,000 barrels a day, according to the Wall Street Journal.
OPEC said it’s planning to leave export levels essentially unchanged over the next several weeks. The 12-nation cartel is responsible for 40% of the world’s oil exports. OPEC’s next meeting is scheduled for June 14 in Vienna.
Bernanke’s mid-day testimony helped erase some of the robust gains seen in equities earlier in the session forcing many oil stocks to lukewarm finishes to the day. Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX) each closed higher on the day, but both also closed well off their highs of the day as selling accelerated late in the session.
Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company, is among 16 groups bidding for oil exploration and production contracts at mature fields in Mexico, various press reports revealed today. Amid several years of declining output, Mexico is looking to foreign firms to help bolster oil production.
Shares of Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE: APC) jumped 1.7% on heavy volume after the company announced a light oil discovery at the Paon-1X exploration well in Ivory Coast coastal territory. Anadarko, which has one of the largest African footprints of any Western oil firm, owns 40% interest in the well.
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