Views on commodities and energy
The spread between front-month oil futures and contracts for later delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange (see Fig. 1) has widened dramatically this month. (See Fig. 2)The widening contango frequently portends a rise in inventories. For example, in Fig. 3, it can be seen that when the discount for fronth-month crude to second-month crude widened to near $4 a barrel earlier this year, inventories jumped to 19-year highs. The relationship between inventories and the outright futures price can be seen in Fig. 4.
U.S. crude futures have just settled down 5.4 percent at $95.71 a barrel. Turmoil in the stock market plays a role but early signs Hurricane Ike spared key energy infrastructure also weighed on prices. In Texas, Chris Baltimore writes “widespread power outages were the key hindrance. Electricity is the lifeblood to Gulf coast refineries.”
Early indications are that the storm caused only minor to moderate damage to platforms and coastal refineries.