Business World

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Cold weather, market upswing push crude near $82

Pat Boyle

CRUDE oil rose to nearly $82 (€57) a barrel yesterday after a jump in stock markets boosted investor confidence and helped extend a month-long rally in crude prices.

Falling energy supplies and the cold weather were also contributing factors but, following nine straight sessions of rising prices, the rally looked to be running out of steam last night as crude oil prices stalled in the wake of predictions that US temperatures will rise next week.

With a big freeze gripping New York and much of Europe, prices have spiked to their highest in over three months in the past week.

Frigid temperatures in the US lifted heating demand to 21pc above normal, with consumption in the US northeast particularly strong.

Unusually cold weather in Britain is expected to continue into the second half of January after the coldest December since 1995, while lower temperatures in Europe were forecast to gradually spread from the northeast to the southwest during the next few days. Demand was fuelled further by heavy snow and biting cold which also hit parts of Asia this week. But the weather in the northeast of the US is expected to return to normal between January 12 and 18, according to the climate prediction centre of the US weather Service.

Oil had surged on Monday as the weather combined with better manufacturing growth in China and the US and a decline in the value of the dollar.

Crude oil for February delivery fell slightly to $81.47 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday.

Brent crude for February settlement climbed $0.25, or 0.3pc, to $80.37 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

"It's a foregone conclusion that we will soon break through last year's high of $82," said trade analyst Peter Beutel. "We're getting some of the coldest weather in years and that's bound to increase demand."

US inventories of distillate fuel, which includes heating oil and diesel, probably fell for a fourth week, according to Bloomberg. Stockpiles dropped 1.78 million barrels last week, based on the median estimate of 14 analysts.

Irish Independent

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