Crude oil gained on Wednesday as driven by rally in US stock markets and decline in oil inventory. The front-month contract for Brent crude soared +1.43% to settle at 73.75 while WTI crude added +0.04% and closed at 72.86. The launch of The United States Brent Oil Fund yesterday also helped boost Brent prices. Oil price strength remains in Asia today.
Despite weak Asian and mixed European trading sessions, the Wall Street shone as Challenger said that US job cuts decreased -65.1% y/y in May, following a -71.1% decline in the prior month, while pending home sales surged +6% m/m in April, accelerating from +5.3% in March. DJIA and S&P 500 jumped +2.25% and +2.58% respectively.
While the market was apparently thrilled by the encouraging economic data, one should remain cautious as the strong readings may not sustain. John Challenger stated that the pace of job cut is unlikely to drop further 'considering that the economy, while recovering, is still in a relatively fragile state'. Without adjusting seasonality, the rate of payroll cut rose +1.3% in May from April.
Strong pending home sales data spurred anticipation of robust existing home sales. While this will likely be the case, housing data in recent months have been 'inflated' by the expiring of tax credit at the end of April and should not be treated as evidence that housing market has improved sustainably.
The industry-sponsored API reported draws in crude and gasoline inventory in the week ended May 28. In a separate report, MasterCard said that motor gasoline demand rose +3.7% to 9.71M bpd, the highest level since August 2007, last week, a positive sign at the start of the driving season.
The US Energy Department will deliver its data at 11:00 am EST. It will probably show modest dips in crude and gasoline inventories while distillate stockpile rose slightly.
Launched yesterday, the United States Brent Oil Fund, LP (BNO) is an exchange traded security designed to track the movements of Brent crude oil prices. The issues are traded in the New York Arca Stock Exchange. Brent crude represents the primary non-US benchmark for crude oil prices. Launch of the fund may boost Brent crude price higher similar to the case when ETFS listed its first platinum and palladium ETFs in NYSE.
Gold plunged from a 2-week high as improved risk appetite diminished demand for safety assets. However downside of the yellow metal should be limited as long as sovereign crisis in the Eurozone remains unsettled and worldwide central bankers continued their loose monetary policies.
An Iranian newspaper said that the central bank began the first phase of selling its 45B-euro reserve for USD. The planned sale will be carried out in 3 stages, with 15B-euro each time, and completed by September 22. The report said Iran will reduce its euro reserve to 20-25% from 55% of the total after the sale is complete and after oil sales in euro have dropped. While the news has not been verified, this indicates worries about the euro's slump have spread to the Middle East and the concerns may lead to buying of gold.