Think tank sees signs of economic recovery in oil market trends

Oct. 5, 2010 at 2:50 PM
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LONDON, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Oil market trends show a global economic recovery may be on the horizon, London's Center for Global Energy Studies said Tuesday in its latest report on linkages between energy demand and world economy.

Citing last week's oil price rises as an example, CGES noted that both dated Brent and WTI varieties of crude oil moved out of a $75-$80 a barrel range Friday and settled at more than the $80 a barrel mark.

In early trading in New York Tuesday, crude oil prices rose to more than $82 a barrel, an increase attributed by analysts to market reactions after the Bank of Japan cut its lending rate from 0.1 percent to zero.

Several complex factors have come into play as oil prices rise, analysts said.

CGES explained, "Despite concerns about a number of ailing European countries, positive economic news elsewhere is supportive of a global economic recovery, like better-than-expected Japanese industrial production figures."

The center also cited among possible causes of recovery forecasts of an "unexpected draw in U.S. crude stock cover" -- which it said "came as a surprise." CGES said the development suggested that U.S. oil demand might be picking up once again.

Annualized U.S. gross domestic product figures for the second quarter of the year -- recorded at 1.7 percent -- were marginally higher than the expected 1.6 percent, CGES said.

Other factors to be taken into account include initial jobless claims that also fell more than anticipated to 453,000, said CGES, which was founded by former Saudi petroleum minister Sheik Zaki Yamani as an independent think thank.

The center warned prices could still dip in response to higher than expected oil production during September by members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

"While there have been some positive indications from recent sets of economic data that the global economy is in recovery mode, many observers are worried that the removal of a number of government stimulus programs will lead to a 'double-dip' recession," CGES said.

The center said the relative stability of world oil prices within the $70-$80 a barrel range didn't offer clues to what might be around the corner on global oil markets.

"Should the global economic recovery pick up speed, more oil will be needed from OPEC, but whether it responds is another matter," said the center.

CGES said the U.S. refiners would be looking to another pickup in the next North American driving season in 2011 after disappointing recovery in gasoline demand during the Memorial Day to Labor Day season this year.

"With this year's gasoline season now over, U.S. refiners will be hoping that the economy picks up over the winter months and that the 2011 driving months once again provide a boost to gasoline margins," CGES said.

CGES caution on potential indicators of global recovery is shared by analysts in other economic data released in recent months.

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