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Oil Falls on Europe’s Sovereign Debt Crisis as Moody’s to Review Ratings

Oil fell, extending last week’s decline, on concern the European debt crisis may spread and as Moody’s Investors Service said it will review ratings for countries in the region.

Futures dropped as much as 1.5 percent in New York, adding to the 1.5 percent loss in the five days to Dec. 9. Last week’s European Union summit offered few new measures and doesn’t diminish the risk of credit-ranking revisions, Moody’s said today. EU leaders will have to quickly implement an agreement to strengthen budget rules to regain market confidence, according to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

“We expect prices to stay under pressure as long as macro- fears stay high,” Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, said by phone. “At the moment it’s Europe, providing contagion that other countries will be dragged into it, that’s keeping demand away. China’s growth may disappoint if European jitters continue.”

Crude for January delivery declined as much as $1.52 to $97.89 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract pared earlier losses to trade at $98.46 at 1:06 p.m. London time. Prices are up 7.8 percent this year after climbing 15 percent in 2010.

Brent oil for January settlement lost as much as $1.62, or 1.5 percent, to $107 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange before recovering to $108.09, down 53 cents. The European benchmark contract was at a premium of $9.58 to New York-traded West Texas Intermediate grade. The spread was a record $27.88 on Oct. 14.

Europe Accord

Euro-area policy makers will focus on implementing last week’s accord to strengthen budget rules and provide an additional 200 billion euros ($267 billion) to the euro fund as quickly as possible, Schaeuble told ARD television yesterday.

The 27 member states of the European Union accounted for 16 percent of global oil demand last year, based on BP Plc’s annual Statistical Review of World Energy. The U.S., the world’s largest oil user, consumed 19.1 million barrels a day, or 21 percent of the total.

“As long as the euro zone can’t get an agreement the market can believe in, the risk appetite will remain high,” Thina Saltvedt, an analyst at Nordea Bank AB in Oslo, said by phone.

Equities Fall

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 0.8 percent while Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures lost 0.9 percent. The euro depreciated 1 percent to $1.3253. The 10-year Italian bond yield jumped 42 basis points after the government sold 7 billion euros ($9.3 billion) of bills. The cost of insuring against default on European government debt approached a record high.

Oil in New York has technical support along the middle Bollinger Band on the daily chart, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. This indicator is at about $97.80 a barrel today. Buy orders tend to be clustered near chart-support levels.

OPEC oil ministers began arriving in Vienna before a meeting to be held in the city on Dec. 14. Saudi Arabia’s oil minister is expected to arrive later today.

Iran, Libya

Iran’s Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said some members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries should reduce output to accommodate the return of shipments from Libya and increased Iraqi exports, according to a report yesterday by the state-run Mehr news agency. Eleven of OPEC’s 12 members, all except Iraq, have formal production targets.

Libya pumped 500,000 barrels a day in November, from a low of 45,000 barrels in the midst of the rebellion against former leader Muammar Qaddafi. Iraq’s daily output last month reached 2.7 million barrels, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest state-owned exporter, will supply full volumes of crude under term contracts to buyers in Asia and Europe next month, according to refinery officials with knowledge of the matter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nidaa Bakhsh in London at nbakhsh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

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