Oil prices sank 5% yesterday, reversing some of the previous day’s gains as analysts predicted Saudi output would recover sooner than expected after weekend drone attacks.
In the space of several minutes in afternoon European trading, North Sea Brent crude oil for delivery in November tumbled from $67.75 to $65.00.
It fell as low as $64.24, before recovering somewhat.
The market was already trading in negative territory after the previous day’s record gains that were fuelled by attacks on Saudi facilities which wiped out half the kingdom’s crude output.
“The markets were once again wrong-footed by the Saudi news,” said Forex.com analyst Fawad Razaqzada in reaction to yesterday’s price drop.
“This time prices slumped on reports of sooner-than-expected return for oil production after the attacks.
“Although little details have emerged, speculators are evidently happy to sell now and ask questions later.
And who would blame them after that big (price) gap?”
The spike in the oil price had stoked fears that costlier energy and geopolitical instability could weigh on an already slowing global economy, but a quick recovery in Saudi exports and a return to earlier price levels would alleviate those concerns.
“Arguably Monday’s spike in oil was unsustainable, since oversupply concerns have been the much more dominant theme this year, but the sudden drop came earlier and quicker than expected,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trading firm IG.
Traders were meanwhile nervously awaiting a further response from the United States after it said Iran was likely to blame.
The crisis revived fears of a conflict in the tinderbox Gulf region and raised questions about the security of crude fields in the world’s top exporter Saudi Arabia as well as other producers.
“Oil’s reversal didn’t do much for the global markets. The indices remain concerned over what happens next between Saudi Arabia and Iran, fears that helped to undermine sentiment,” said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.
US President Donald Trump has said he is ready to help Riyadh following the strikes, but would await a “definitive” determination on who was responsible.
Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility, but Washington and Riyadh have pointed the finger at Tehran, which denies the accusations.
Trump appeared to temper his earlier warning that the US was “locked and loaded” to respond, saying: “I’m not looking to get into a new conflict, but sometimes you have to.”
Meanwhile, Iran’s supreme leader yesterday ruled out negotiations with the US “at any level”, as tensions mounted between the arch-foes.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the US adopted a policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran because it believes it cannot bring the Islamic republic to its knees through other means.
The attack on Saudi oil facilities also took attention away from the upcoming trade talks between China and the US, as well as a much-anticipated policy meeting of the Federal Reserve, which is expected to cut interest rates to day.
Europe’s leading stock markets finished the day mixed, while on Wall Street the main indices were also mixed in late morning trading despite US industrial output making a bigger-than-expected rebound in August.
In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 was down less than 0.1% to 7,320.40 points, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 lost less than 0.1% to 12,372.61 and Paris’s CAC 40 was 0.2% up to 5,615.51 points at yesterday’s close.
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