石油需求减少 油价跌势加剧

发布者: shunitang | 发布时间: 2008-10-20 13:47| 查看数: 1076| 评论数: 1|

Oil's Slide Deepens


Signs that an enfeebled U.S. economy is using less and less oil sent world crude prices below $70 a barrel for the first time in 14 months, a dramatic turnaround for a market that not long ago had some analysts predicting $200-a-barrel oil as early as next year.

The sharp drop in U.S. oil demand -- down in recent weeks by about 9% from a year ago -- shows how deep the economic malaise is across much of the industrialized world now. As the U.S. unemployment rate rises and retail sales and manufacturing orders slump, the world's largest consumer of oil needs less crude to move goods, fly passenger jets, and transport workers to the office.

Increasing gloom over the health of the world economy has helped to shove down oil prices at a dizzying rate since the summer. U.S. benchmark crude on Thursday fell to less than half of its record high, set just three months ago, of $147 a barrel. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude for November delivery fell $4.69, or 6.3%, to $69.85.

Rattled by the swift price drop and evidence of plunging demand, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries hastily agreed Thursday to meet next week in Vienna to weigh a production cut, in a bid to firm up prices. The cartel, supplier of nearly 40% of the world's oil, had planned to hold an emergency session in mid-November, but the plunge in prices has spread alarm among countries like Nigeria and Venezuela that have grown heavily dependent on rising crude revenues.

Oil's fall helped drive stocks higher after an initial fall, as stock investors bet the lower price will give consumers more money to spend and cut the costs of fuel-dependent firms. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 401.35 points, or 4.68%, at 8979.26. Airline stocks rallied with the price drop, along with planned capacity cuts, making it more likely carriers may be profitable next year. In addition, consumer-price inflation continues to ease, the latest data show, reflecting the plunge.

Many analysts were predicting just weeks ago that oil would average around $105 a barrel next year. Many local governments and companies have used a similar figure when budgeting for next year. So, while the price plunge is likely a reflection of the country in recession, if the price stabilizes at around $80 a barrel, as many now expect, 'that will amount to essentially a $275 billion stimulus package to the U.S. economy,' says Lawrence Goldstein, an analyst with the Energy Policy Research Foundation.

Oil at $80 a barrel would put gasoline prices nationwide at about $3 a gallon.

Oil's drop has been exacerbated by financial-market forces beyond falling demand. Hedge funds, responsible for a large amount of the speculation in crude oil, have had to play defense in the credit crisis lately by unwinding trades that use a lot of borrowed money, such as oil futures bets. Hedge funds are also being hit by heavy redemptions as risk-averse investors cash out. This forces funds to sell at inopportune times, adding to the spiral.

Events over the past three months have stunned oil analysts almost as much as bankers and stockbrokers. For the first time since the last U.S. recession in 1991-92, world oil demand this year could end up being essentially flat, despite robust growth in Asia and the Middle East, a development few predicted even six months ago.

Many private forecasters went into the year predicting that world oil demand would jump by around 1.3 million barrels a day in 2008. As prices soared in the spring, Goldman Sachs went so far as to predict that robust demand and crimped supply could send prices to more than $200 a barrel by next year.

But events in the U.S. changed all that. The U.S. over the four weeks before Oct. 10 consumed around 18.6 million barrels of oil a day, a drop of 1.8 million barrels, or nearly 9%, over the year-earlier period. Many analysts predict the U.S. may shave off an additional half-million barrels a day in 2009, which would put U.S. consumption about where it was in the mid-1990s. The world this year is consuming around 86.3 million barrels a day, up only 200,000 barrels a day over 2007.

Jeffrey Currie, Goldman's head of commodity research, said it was the credit crunch and its impact on the U.S. economy -- more even than soaring prices this summer -- that have so sharply eaten into demand. Gasoline purchases have fallen more so far this month than they did in July, when prices were at records.

'The credit issues have had a severe impact on economic activity and especially on the oil industry,' he said. 'If this was all just about pump prices, the cratering would have been much more severe in July than in October. But it's been the other way around.'

Falling oil prices offer a rare flash of good news for the U.S. economy. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke cited falling energy costs as one force driving down inflation. Consumer prices held firm last month, making it easier for the Fed to cut interest rates again, if it chooses, in a bid to rev up the economy.

Still, all signs suggest that the troubled economy will continue to dwarf the fall in pump prices as hard-pressed consumers continue to cut back. 'What is happening now is that the economic slowdown is trumping the downturn in prices,' says Tancred Lidderdale, a petroleum-supply expert at the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

U.S. commuters and companies began sharply paring fuel purchases this year as pump prices soared to over $4.10 a gallon nationwide by July. The cuts were most dramatic in California, where diesel sales fell 9% in the second quarter over the year before. California gasoline sales in June were off 7.5% from June 2007.

'Numbers like that are close to being a collapse in demand,' says Aaron Brady, an analyst for Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

But even as gasoline prices are now heading back toward $3 a gallon, and below, in most states, analysts expect demand to keep falling. MasterCard said that by its estimates gasoline sales in the week of Oct. 10 dropped 9.4% from a year ago.

The reasons for the continued slide are varied.

About 35% of all miles driven are work-related, so the higher the unemployment, the fewer miles driven. September saw the biggest job losses in five years, and the jobless rate, now at 6.1%, is all but certain to rise.

There are also clear signs of a serious retraction in the U.S. manufacturing sector, which will in turn put a squeeze on fuel use. Toyota Motor Corp., which produces many of the world's most fuel-efficient cars, cut its global production in August by 17%, as exports of all Japanese cars to the U.S. fell by 30%.

Cuts in government spending have also sent asphalt use sharply downward as cities and states delay road projects. Jet-fuel demand is also falling.

Some economists are now wondering if the sharp declines in oil use earlier this year, when the U.S. economy was officially growing, weren't actually a harbinger of a looming recession.

'The second shoe is now dropping,' said Adam Siemenski, chief energy economist at Deutsche Bank. 'First it was high prices and a bad economy. Now it is all bad economy.'

The big question now is to what extent oil-demand growth in China and the Middle East can continue to outpace the slump in the industrialized world. Analysts still say that oil demand will rise next year, by as much as 500,000 barrels a day. OPEC agrees, and looks likely to trim at least one million barrels a day from its production going into 2009 to avoid oversupply.

Yet falling prices, in the long run, may not be all good news. The credit crunch and gyrating oil prices have sent a chill through many segments of the oil industry. Delayed or shelved exploration projects from offshore West Africa to the Canadian oil sands could lead to a supply crimp in the next few years if and when demand comes roaring back.

Neil King Jr.


shunitang 发表于 2008-10-20 13:48:29
石油需求减少 油价跌势加剧









Bloomberg News/Landov



多数分析师几周前还预测明年的油价平均将在每桶105美元左右。许多地方政府和企业在规划明年的预算时也参考了类似数据。因此,虽说油价下跌或许是一个国家经济陷入衰退的反映,但如果油价像许多人目前预测的那样持稳于每桶80美元上下,这将相当于为美国经济提供了2,750亿美元的刺激方案,Energy Policy Research Foundation的分析师戈德斯泰恩(Lawrence Goldstein)说。




多数私人预测者在今年年初时都预计,2008年世界石油日需求将增加约130万桶。随着春季油价的飙升,高盛(Goldman Sachs)预测旺盛的需求加上疲软的供应明年将把油价推至每桶200美元以上。


高盛大宗商品研究负责人居里(Jeffrey Currie)说,造成需求大幅减少的原因是信贷危机以及它对美国经济的影响,这两个因素的作用甚至超过了今夏油价飙升给需求带来的抑制性影响。汽油销量本月迄今的下滑幅度超过了7月份汽油价格处于纪录高位时创下的降幅。


持续下跌的油价为美国经济带来了一条难得的好消息。美国联邦储备委员会(Fed)主席贝南克(Ben Bernanke)认为不断下滑的能源价格是推低通货膨胀的因素之一。美国9月份消费者价格指数表现稳定,如果Fed决意为刺激经济再次减息的话,这种通胀水平也使它做出这种决定时更容易。

然而眼下所有迹象都表明,由于手头拮据的消费者纷纷捂紧口袋,汽油价格下跌在不景气的经济面前将继续扮演微不足道的作用。美国能源情报署(Energy Information Administration)研究石油供应的专家林德戴尔(Tancred Lidderdale)说,现在的情况是经济减速的效应超过了油价下跌的影响。


Cambridge Energy Research Associates的分析师布兰迪(Aaron Brady)说,类似这样的数据几乎相当于需求出现崩溃。







德意志银行(Deutsche Bank)首席能源经济学家西门斯基(Adam Siemenski)指出,第二只鞋正在掉下;最初产生影响的是高企的油价和糟糕的经济,而今所有的问题都出在糟糕的经济上。



[ 本帖最后由 shunitang 于 2008-10-20 13:50 编辑 ]
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