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Tuesday 02nd of December 2008
November 22, 2006

Crude oil prices down on higher inventories


by Elaine Frei

Crude oil prices were significantly lower on Wednesday after the release of new US inventory figures by the Energy Information Administration. Crude oil stockpiles were up by 5.1 million barrels in the week ending November 17. Inventories were expected to increase, but only by around 0.6 million barrels. The large increase was due to greater imports and declining refinery utilization. Imports were up to 10.49 million barrels per day, an increase of 1.04 million barrels per day over the past month, while refinery utilization was down by 0.2 percent to 87.1 percent. Meanwhile, demand for oil products was up 2.9 percent over last year at the same time to 21.05 million barrels per day over the past four weeks.

Gasoline inventories were up as well, adding 1.4 million barrels when a decline of 0.9 million barrels had been expected. Distillate stockpiles were down by 1.2 million barrels during the week, very close to expected declines.

Brent crude January contracts were $1.50 lower to $58.89 per barrel, while January delivery West Texas Intermediate crude dropped $1.63 to $58.54 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Nymex Decmeber unleaded gasoline was 6 cents lower to $1.5730 per gallon and Nymex Decmeber heating oil was also down 6 cents to $1.6730 per gallon. Natural gas prices were lower as well, with Nymex December Henry Hub down just over 2 cents to $7.71 per million British thermal units.

Prices for precious metals were mixed on Wednesday. Gold added 0.4 percent to $628.80 per troy ounce, but platinum prices dropped 6.9 percent to $1,145 per troy ounce on continuing rumors that an exchange-traded fund for the metal will be introduced soon.

Base metals were also mixed. Zinc added 1.7 percent to $4,365 per tonne as inventories in London Metal Exchange warehouses dropped another 500 tonnes to 89,000 tonnes. However, nickel dropped 0.5 percent to $31,150 even though LME stockpiles fell another 534 tonnes to below 6,900 tonnes. Copper was also lower, by 1.2 percent to $6,895 per tonne.

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