Oil tumbles below $50 as recession is called
By MARK WILLIAMS,AP Energy Writer AP - Tuesday, December 2
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Oil prices tumbled below $50 a barrel Monday as National Bureau of Economic Research reported that the U.S. economy has been in a recession since December 2007.
Crude had already fallen 8 percent on reports showing that manufacturing activity in the U.S. hit a 26-year low, which was much worse than expected, and construction spending fell again.
A panel of the NBER believes the current downturn will last until the middle of 2009 and will be the most severe slump since the 1981-82 recession.
Light, sweet crude for January delivery more than 9 percent, or $5.15 to settle at $49.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Manufacturing and consumer spending has eroded quickly and lowered demand for energy. That has erased nearly 66 percent of crude's market value since July when it peaked near $150 per barrel.
Analyst Phil Flynn with Alaron Trading Corp. said the $50 price remains significant psychologically for traders.
"It opens up the possibility of further declines," he said.
In a note to investors Monday, Raymond James Equity Research slashed its 2009 oil price forecast from $90 per barrel to $60 per barrel.
In London, January Brent crude fell more than 10 percent, $5.58 to $47.91 on the ICE Futures exchange.
Oil prices are falling in the wake of an OPEC meeting in Cairo, Egypt, over the weekend, where member states announced no new production cuts.
On Saturday, Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi said that Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will do what needs to be done to shore up oil prices when the group meets Dec. 17 in Algeria.
Indications that OPEC has lost much of its power to control prices by cutting supply abound, however, with demand falling away fast.
A report on Iranian state TV Monday in which OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah El-Badri was quoted as saying that a daily oil production cut of between 1 million and 1.5 million barrels was likely in December did little to halt declines.
OPEC, which accounts for about 40 percent of global supply, cut output by 1.5 million barrels a day in October, bringing total cuts to around 2 million barrels a day this year.
Those measures have had no discernible effect on oil prices, which have fallen another 26 percent since the last round of production cuts on Oct. 24.
"The OPEC meeting from their viewpoint was a disaster," Flynn said.
Oil traders also watched as the Dow Jones industrial average gave up 300 points Monday and as dueling economic reports buttressed evidence of a severe economic slowdown.
The Institute for Supply Management said its gauge of manufacturing activity fell to a reading of 36.2 in November. That was a steeper-than-expected drop from the October reading of 38.9 and underscored that the hard economic times were beginning to have a major effect manufacturing. A reading below 50 indicates the sector is contracting.
The Commerce Department reported that construction spending dropped by 1.2 percent in October, much bigger than the 0.9 percent decline many analysts expected.
Survey of manufacturing activity in the euro zone and Britain also points to sharper-than-expected contraction in output. In China, an equivalent survey of its manufacturing sector also made for grim reading, generating fears that one of the main engines of global growth over the last few years is slowing sharply.
Sucden Research in London cited data from the United Nations, which now expects the global economy to grow by just 1 percent in 2009, compared with an earlier forecast expecting growth of 2.5 percent.
Meanwhile, prices at the pump continued to fall, but at a slower rate. The price fell half a cent overnight to $1.82 per gallon, according to auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express. That is 64.3 cents lower than a month ago and $1.248 lower than a year ago.
Prices also have been falling in Europe though they remain much higher than in the U.S.
In Germany, Europe's largest economy, a liter of gasoline sold for $1.47 per euro, or about $5.59 per gallon, according to TCS, the Swiss automobile club. That is down 26 percent from July 16.
Prices have fallen 24 percent since July 16 in France where gas sold for $1.40 per euro Monday.
In other Nymex trading, gasoline futures tumbled 9.8 cents to settle at $1.1112 a gallon. Heating oil dropped 11.2 cents to settle at $1.6151 a gallon. Natural gas for January delivery, however, rose 10.5 cents to $6.615 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Associated Press writers Pablo Gorondi in Budapest, Hungary, and Alex Kennedy in Singapore and Martin Crutsinger in Washington contributed to this report.
Recommend this article
Average (0 votes)
Sign in to recommend this article »
Most Recommended Stories »
Related Articles: China's Economy
Australian central bank slashes interest rates by 100 basis pointsAFP - 57 minutes ago
Markets plunge on US recession data, global gloomAFP - 1 hour 7 minutes ago
China hopes talks with US boost coordinationAP - 1 hour 16 minutes ago
Coca-Cola's bid for Chinese juice maker under review: companiesAFP - 1 hour 18 minutes ago
Related Articles: Business
Australia slashes interest rate to avert recessionAP - 20 minutes ago
India Hot Stocks: M&M, Tata Motors down on Nov sales dropReuters - 30 minutes ago
India's Tata Motors to close Pune plant for 3 daysReuters - 33 minutes ago
Indian shares open 3.44 pct down on global fallsReuters - 34 minutes ago
NZ dollar lower on stocks plunge; bonds firmReuters - 37 minutes ago
Related Full Coverage
All Full Coverage
Most Popular – Business
Wall Street plunges as recession becomes reality
World AIDS Day highlights big challenges 20 years on
Saudi king says 75 dollar oil price 'fair'
Love handles increase death risk: study
World's oldest person dies at 115 years
View Complete List »