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from Breakingviews:

New oil dynamics may challenge crude growth logic

By Christopher Swann and Kevin Allison 

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Fears for the wobbly world economy have pushed Brent crude below $100 a barrel for the first time since July. Long-term trends at work in the oil market mean it could stay depressed. That’s good, since cheaper energy helps industry. Better still, booming shale output, greater efficiency and the rise of natural gas as a rival transport fuel may keep the oil price subdued even as growth is stimulated.

The price of Brent has dived almost 20 percent in two months amid fears of a global economic slowdown. The latest dip was part of a broad sell-off in commodities that hit everything from gold to grains and industrial metals. Recent history suggests oil prices climb higher as soon as economic activity picks back up, a reaction that limits the duration of any stimulus provided by lowered energy input costs. There are three reasons to think this time may be different.

First, supply. The flow of crude from America’s prolific shale deposits in Texas and North Dakota has been outstripping estimates. Eventually, America’s revolution may spread elsewhere, including to Russia and China. This year, Citi expects oil supply growth to outpace demand growth by more than a third.

from Global Investing:

Is the rouble overhyped?

For many months now the Russian rouble has been everyone's favourite currency. Thanks to all the interest it rose 4 percent against the dollar during the July-September quarter. How long can the love affair last?

It is easy to see why the rouble is in favour. The central bank last month raised interest rates to tame inflation and might do so again on Friday. The  implied yield on 12-month rouble/dollar forwards  is at 6 percent -- among the highest in emerging markets.  It has also been boosted by cash flowing into Russian local bond market, which is due to be liberalised in coming months. Above all, there is the oil price which usually gets a strong boost from Fed QE.  So despite worries about world growth, Brent crude prices are above $110 a barrel. Analysts at Barclays are among those who like the rouble, predicting it to hit 30.5 per dollar by end-2012, up from current levels of 31.12.

from Breakingviews:

Saudi’s foreign aid bill piles up

By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign aid bill is mounting. Egypt Jordan, Bahrain, Oman and Yemen - the Arab spring has elicited a string of pledges of loans and grants from the oil-rich kingdom to its troubled, resource-poor neighbours.

from Breakingviews:

Euro zone powerless to avoid big oil divide

By Kevin Allison and Christopher Swann

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Higher oil prices are yet another force pushing the euro area’s economies apart. They hit gross domestic product three times harder in Greece than in Germany, according to data from Moody’s Analytics. Ireland and Italy are big losers, too. With Iran worries driving prices higher and sovereign debt fears flaring up again, governments may be even more tempted to tap strategic petroleum reserves. But that won’t guarantee lower prices.

from Breakingviews:

Pricey exploration means dear oil is here to stay

By Christopher Swann and Kevin Allison

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Gas guzzlers may wait in vain for a return to cheap oil. Big producing nations like Saudi Arabia, which handed out cash to restive citizens during last year’s Arab Spring, need higher oil prices to balance their books. Meanwhile, a three-fold increase in the costs associated with extracting crude over the past decade has made expensive oil more a necessity than a luxury for energy firms, according to a Morningstar study. Put the two trends together and it looks like dear oil is here to stay.

from Breakingviews:

Saudi words won’t ease pressure on U.S. fuel prices

By Una Galani
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own

Saudi Arabia can't easily relieve Barack Obama's fuel price misery. The kingdom's assurances that it can and is willing to increase oil supply in the event of a shortage won't do much to lower U.S. fuel prices, which are reaching risky levels ahead of presidential elections in November. In fact, the options for the world's biggest oil supplier to rein in runaway crude are all imperfect.

from Breakingviews:

ECB cash palliates crisis but drives up oil price

By Ian Campbell

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

One trillion euros in European Central Bank cash has poured like a balm onto the euro zone’s stormy waters – and helped drive up the global oil price. ECB liquidity cannot solve the euro zone crisis and comes with major risks.

from Breakingviews:

Higher oil price should burn itself out

By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

If $120 a barrel Brent crude is a threat to the global economy, someone had better tell the stock market. The MSCI World Index has largely kept pace with the rising price of oil this year. For now, stronger-than-expected economic growth appears to be overshadowing equity investors’ concerns about tight supplies of oil. Worries about Iran may keep trading volatile. But absent a serious flare-up in the Persian Gulf, any spike in crude prices should be mostly self-correcting.

from Breakingviews:

Iran sanctions’ impact could prove slippery

By Kevin Allison
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Iran’s rulers are feeling the heat. The Islamic Republic was forced to prop up its currency on Jan. 4, just days after the U.S. imposed tough new sanctions to goad it into abandoning its nuclear weapons programme. A European curb on Iranian crude imports would add to pressure on Tehran ahead of elections in March.

from Reuters Money:

Gasoline prices can be curbed: Here’s how

The U.S. Government already has a steel truncheon to curb high oil and gasoline prices. It's called Dodd-Frank.

Petrochemical companies, banks, Wall Street and hedge fund speculators, though, don't want to see real policing of this financial reform law to go into effect. They make billions with the status quo -- at your expense.

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