Crude Oil Falls Below $33

Crude oil fell below $33 a barrel in New York as the strengthening dollar reduced the appeal of commodity investments at a time when demand is declining and stockpiles are rising., Bloomberg 1/20/2009 6:46:41 AM

At Cushing, Oklahoma, where the benchmark oil for New York futures is stored, inventories have climbed to 33 million barrels, the highest since records started four years ago. The February contract will cease trading today, so traders have to sell futures or accept the barrels at a time of falling demand.

Crude oil for February delivery fell to $32.70, down 10.4 percent from last week’s close and the lowest since Dec. 19, on the New York Mercantile Exchange today. The contract traded at $34.10 a barrel at 1:32 p.m. London time.

Floor trading was closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday yesterday. Trades then will be booked today for settlement. The more-actively traded March contract was at $40.28, down 5.4 percent.

Brent crude oil for March settlement fell as much as $1.54, 3.5 percent, to $42.96 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange. It traded for $44.04 at 1:32 p.m. London time.

Russia and Ukraine signed 10-year natural-gas contracts, ending a dispute that squeezed supplies to the European Union for almost two weeks. Shipments resumed today.

Rising U.S. stockpiles and forecasts from the International Energy Agency and OPEC on declining world demand contributed to an 11 percent decline in Nymex crude last week. Prices are down 20 percent this year, after tumbling 54 percent in 2008.

Crude-oil inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, where West Texas Intermediate traded on the Nymex is stored, climbed 2.5 percent to 33 million barrels last week, the Energy Department said this week. It was the highest since at least April 2004, when the department began keeping records for the location.