Crude Oil Prices Continue to Whipsaw

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Light sweet crude futures for April delivery in April lost $0.38 today, or 1.2% on the New York Mercantile Exchange leaving the futures at $31.76 a barrel. April Brent crude on London’s ICE Futures exchange was not spared, suffering the same fall to trade at $34 a barrel.

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The smaller-than-expected build-up of US crude inventory led to a surprise and sudden rise in oil prices. The 7.1 million-barrel increase was smaller than what was estimated by the American Petroleum Institute. Apparently, even with the previous decline of gasoline stocks at close to 22 million barrels, the latest increase to 507.6 million barrels propelled total domestic crude inventory to another weekly high.

Commenting about the situation, an OCBC energy analyst Barnabas Gan said that the market does not have good fundamental drivers, propelling many traders to look to U.S. crude oil inventory. From the latest figures the global glut is worsening.

The oversupply of oil prices has led to a nearly two-year thrashing that has posed a real threat to many oil operators and especially high-cost producers in North America. But even as various oil companies opt to decrease their capital investments, U.S. shale producers’ resilience has exceeded market expectations.

However, the larger oil-producing countries have been prompted by the smaller ones to limit the oversupply but recently pleas have fallen on deaf ears. The majors include Russia and Saudi Arabia to the exclusion of Iran which has just made a comeback into the oil export market.

But Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Ali Al-Naimi, negated the possibility of a supply cut from his country arguing that prices should be determined by market forces. The OPEC behemoth is trying to squeeze high cost producers out of the market, and the strategy appears to be succeeding for now.

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