Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Crude Oil Prices Continue to Fall off the Cliff: Now at 15-Month Low

In intraday trading crude oil fell of the cliff again, plunging by over $4 a barrel - a 15-month low. The continued fall in oil prices is completely tied to consumer demand, which has dropped as people cut back on spending on anything but essentials.

December delivery for crude oil dropped by $4.25 to $67.93 a barrel shortly after 11:00 a.m. EST today on the NYMEX. Oil futures hit a low of $67.50, the worst showing since June 27, 2007.

On London's ICE Futures Europe exchange, Brent crude has dropped by $3.40 for the December settlement, a 4.9 percent fall. It now stands at $66.32 a barrel. That's the lowest price since May 10, 2007.

For the week ending October 17, fuel demand in the U.S. averaged 18.7 million barrels a day, according to the report of the Energy Department released today. That's down 8.5 percent from the same period last year.

Average use of gasoline has also fallen, now averaging 8.8 million barrels a day for the last four weeks, down from last year by 4.3 percent.

With distillate fuel (heating oil, diesel) use also dropping significantly, we can see demand for oil will continue to fall for some time.

Even though the unprecedented special meeting by OPEC next month is expected to result in the cutback of 1 million barrels a day in production, that will do nothing to change the demand factor until the global economy recovers. That isn't going to happen any time soon.

Part of the result of all this will be less travel, which will affect not only oil companies, but airlines and shipping companies as well.

Oil inventories also continue to rise, as there was an increase of 3.18 millon barrels to 311.4 million barrels, the fourth time in a row.

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