One of the very few positives for the world economy over the second quarter — or at least for the majority of the world that imports oil — has been an almost $40 per barrel plunge in the spot price of Brent crude. As the euro zone crisis, yet another soft patch stateside and a worryingly steep slowdown in the BRICs all combined to pull the demand rug from under the energy markets, the traditional stabilising effects of oil returned to the fray. So much so that by the last week in June, the annual drop in oil prices was a whopping 20%. Apart from putting more money in household and business purses by directly lowering fuel bills and eventually the cost of products with high energy inputs, the drop in oil prices should have a significant impact on headline consumer inflation rates that are already falling well below danger rates seen last year. And for central banks around the world desperate to ease monetary policy and print money again to offset the ravages of deleveraging banks, this is a major relief and will amount to a green light for many — not least the European Central Bank which is now widely expected to cut interest rates again this Thursday.
It’s the economy, stupid. Or isn’t it?
Brent crude has risen 15 percent since the end of last year, focusing people’s minds on the potential this has to choke off the recovery in world growth. But some reckon it is the recovery that’s at least partly responsible for the surging oil prices — economic data from United States and Germany has been strong of late. There are hopes that France and the United Kingdom may escape recession after all. And growth in the developing world has been robust.
from Global News Journal:
The recent run-up in oil prices could have further to go as most analysts are likely to begin raising their year-end oil price targets, according to market research firm Birinyi Associates in Stamford, Connecticut. "Given several considerably lower expectations, we think it is reasonable to expect upgrades," they said in a research commentary, noting that crude oil prices were already above most firms' year-end targets. U.S. front-month crude hit an intraday high of $73.23 on Thursday, the highest intraday level since prices hit $75.69 on Oct. 21. A year-end oil price target of note recently came from Goldman Sachs, which raised its end-of-2009 oil price forecast on June 4 to $85 a barrel from $65. Oil's climb partly reflects weakness of the U.S. dollar and expectations that demand may be picking up as the global recession abates.--- Graphic courtesy of Birinyi Associates, Inc.