Oil Falls Sharply after Rise in U.S. Crude Stocks

Oil fell sharply on Thursday after an unexpected rise in crude oil inventories in top consumer the United States.

U.S. light crude for December delivery was down $2.00 at $92.09 a barrel by 10:50 a.m. EST after rising almost $3.00 in the previous session. London Brent crude was $1.33 lower at $90.03.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest data showed a 2.8 million barrel rise in crude oil stocks last week, when analysts had forecast a fall of 800,000 barrels.

Shrinking oil stocks, a weak dollar, speculative inflows, as well as political tensions, have helped drive oil prices to record highs of $98.62 a barrel, reached on November 7. But oil is now more than $6 below its peak, pressured by concerns that high prices are starting to affect demand and by expectations that speculators who have helped boost prices could step back.

OPEC lowered its world oil demand growth forecast for the fourth quarter of this year in its November Monthly Oil Market Report, partly due to a modest downturn in the U.S. economy. "The U.S. consumer is facing headwinds from falling house prices, restrictions on borrowing and higher energy costs," the report said.

Top oil consumer the United States has urged the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to increase output to cool prices. OPEC members have blamed speculation and not supply shortages for the record prices, and have confirmed they will not discuss raising crude output at a heads of state meeting on November 17-18.

TradingEconomics.com, Reuters
11/15/2007 8:26:21 AM