Brent crude futures fell during Asian trading as attention centred on US crude stock data. A Bloomberg survey pointed towards a US crude stock gain of 2.2 million barrels last week. Last week traders were caught out by a 7.1 million barrel rise in crude inventories, three times larger than expected. Increased stocks provide further evidence that the US consumer may be baulking at further gasoline price increases. A rise in oil prices doesn’t seem to have affected US manufacturers yet though. Crude futures rose yesterday after the ISM PMI suggested manufacturing activity in March was stronger than expected.
Brent crude futures rose during Asian trading on Monday following the release of the official Chinese Purchasing Managers Index for March. Data showed manufacturing activity rose to the highest level in a year and significantly above forecasts. The data offered some assurance that Chinese economic growth is not suffering a ‘hard landing’ and that demand for crude in the second biggest consumer will remain relatively strong. However, as we discuss here a competing measure of Chinese manufacturing activity for March tells a different picture. Meanwhile hedge funds and other large speculators trimmed back bets on rising oil prices by 2.6% in the week ending 27 March, according to the latest CFTC Commitment of Traders Report.
Brent crude futures rebounded during Asian markets after yesterdays sharp sell-off in crude prices was seen as dropping too far. Prices had dropped on a large rise in US crude stocks and speculation that the US, France and the UK will stage a release of some of their strategic oil reserves. Meanwhile US lawmakers yesterday introduced the latest bill seeking to expand sanctions on Iran.
Cotton futures traded around 94c per lb during Asian markets, the highest level in nearly two months ahead of US Department of Agriculture reports published Friday. These include the USDA’s World Supply and Demand Estimates report which is likely to show an upward revision to US export figures. Weekly US export data will also be released, with traders especially interested in Chinese demand for US cotton. Finally the USDA is also scheduled to release the Prospective Plantings report which gives an indication of US farmers cotton planting intentions.
Brent crude futures fell more than $2 per barrel yesterday to around $124 per barrel. Comments from the Saudi Oil Minister that there was no rational reason for prices to be so high and news that Western countries had considered tapping their strategic oil reserves sent prices lower. One analyst suggested that depending on the size of the release at least $5 per barrel would come off.
Meanwhile the bearish sentiment for crude continued following the latest US crude stock data showed a 7.1 million barrel build – vs expectations of a 2.6 million barrel rise.
Brent crude futures slipped 0.4% during Asian markets to $124.90 per barrel. US crude stock data from the API, released yesterday showed stocks rose 3.6 million barrels last week and gasoline demand fell 1.5% according to data from Mastercard. Both signs that oil demand may be faltering.
Crude futures also declined on news that the US had considered tapping its strategic petroleum reserve and Iran is preparing for talks on its nuclear facilities.
Cotton futures rose to a 3-week high on concern that rising US exports will lead to tighter supply in the US and reports of dry conditions in China (the worlds top producer and consumer of cotton).
Cotton futures rose to 91c per lb during Asian trading (a 3-week high) on increased speculative interest. Demand for commodities was supported by comments from US Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke who suggested that recent falls in US jobless numbers may be temporary. The comments encouraged investors who had begun to doubt the central banks forecast of exceptionally low interest rates until late 2014.
Brent crude futures declined 0.2% to around $125 per barrel on forecasts of higher US crude inventories. A Bloomberg survey showed that analysts forecast US DOE crude stocks rose by 2.8 million barrels in the past week. Data to be released tomorrow.