Crude Oil Trades Below $38

Crude oil traded below $38 a barrel in New York on speculation recession in the world’s largest economies will stifle demand for fuel., Bloomberg 2/16/2009 6:33:36 AM

Japan’s economy, the world’s largest oil consumer after the U.S. and China, contracted the most since 1974 in the fourth quarter, a government report showed today. The U.K. will shrink at almost twice the pace previously forecast this year, a business lobby group said.

Oil for delivery next month is under a lot of downward pressure on more crude oil inventory builds in the U.S. and a continuous flow of negative economic data,” Harry Tchilinguirian, a senior oil-market analyst at BNP Paribas SA in London, said by phone today.

Crude oil for March delivery traded at $37.55 a barrel, 4 cents higher, at 1:38 p.m. London time. Floor trading on Nymex will be closed today for the Presidents’ Day holiday.

Japan’s gross domestic product contracted at an annual 12.7 percent pace in the fourth quarter 2008, the Cabinet Office said today in Tokyo. That followed a 13.9 percent drop in exports from the third quarter.

The U.K.’s gross domestic product will contract 3.3 percent, instead of the 1.7 percent predicted in November, the Confederation of British Industry said today. By the end of 2009, the economy will have contracted for six consecutive quarters, the biggest U.K. business lobby said.

Brent crude for April settlement traded 18 cents higher at $44.99 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange today.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, supplier of more than 40 percent of the world’s oil, will probably cut production again next month if prices remain below $40, Iran’s representative, Mohammad Ali Khatibi, said yesterday.

Stockpiles in the U.S., the world’s biggest oil consumer, have risen for the past seven weeks and are at their highest since July 2007, according to Energy Department records.

The group fixed a daily production ceiling of 24.845 million barrels from Jan. 1 for its 11 members with quotas, taking its cuts since September to 4.2 million barrels a day.

OPEC production cuts and cold weather are helping rebalance the oil market, bringing the low point for prices closer than previously expected, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts said.