The oil price largely ignored a set of weaker US data (including initial jobless claims, Philly Fed) and settled barely changed at 103.78 USD per barrel yesterday. As far as this week’s EIA data on US oil inventories are concerned, the overall picture was rather bearish as it showed an unexpected increase in product inventories which was only mitigated by unexpected decline in crude stocks. Let us, however, recall that US crude inventories fell by just about 0.6 million barrels from the highest level since April 1981 recorded on the week before.
Meanwhile, demand for North Sea physical oil has slightly picked up this week which resulted in a small increase in Forties premiums against Dated Brent. Due to still-low refinery margins in North West Europe, the likely suspect is export demand.
Overall demand pressure on the price of Brent oil thus remains rather weak ahead of seasonally peak in demand for lightend products.
The price of gold continued to fall on Thursday on further outflow of the metal from gold ETFs. After easily breaching below a support at 1404 USD/toz, the gold price fell as low as to 1369 USD/toz in yesterday’s intraday trading.
In our view, prospects of gold as a long-term investment remain, despite the recent sharp fall, rather grim as a combination of factors that had supported gold in the past years wanes. The ECB’s statement from last summer that it would do anything to preserve the euro mitigated systemic risks and inflation pressures remain contained as well (even though the major central banks continue to print money). Moreover, even if the price fall spurred some Asian consumers to purchase more metal, they seem to be reluctant to buy when the price approaches resistance at 1478 USD/toz and prospects of the US economy look promising and could add some pressure on long-term interest rates (which is probably the main enemy of gold).