Oil prices near 2010 high

By Pete Southern in Gold and Oil News | December 2, 2010 15:11 |

Watching oil prices move in the last several months has been like watching grass grow, relative to the highly volatile action during the summer of 2008.

Light sweet crude oil futures currently (December 2) trade at $86.65 on the New York NYMEX, just below 2010 highs above $87, and $.10 below Wednesday’s settle price.

Oil prices are likely to get a short-term boost following Wednesday’s news that the European Central Bank (ECB) would step in to offer more support for the 16 member nations in the European Union.

Debt concerns in Ireland have been a soar spot in global markets of late, but equity investors took the news as positive in driving the Dow higher nearly 250 points Wednesday.

The euro bounced back against the dollar after getting hammered for nearly two weeks straight. One euro nets $1.3103 in early morning New York trade. A strong euro-dollar has recently coincided with stronger oil prices.

US jobless claims are expected to be slightly higher on Friday after reaching their lowest point in two years. A better than expected report could serve as an additional catalyst for higher oil prices.

Speculators are watching US and Europe economic conditions, along with Chinese government actions on the yuan, to determine the strength of the global market. Stronger economies demand more oil for business expansion, transportation, and consumerism.

In the bigger picture for oil prices, not much is expected to change if you go by the November 9th Energy Information Administration short-term energy outlook. The EIA project oil prices to rise slightly to $87 per barrel by the fourth quarter of 2011. Not much of a rise is needed given current rates.

The EIA expects oil prices to average $83 through the winter period from October 1st to March 31st. Its projections for the last part of 2010 and throughout 2011 are based on modest expectations of economic growth in the United States.

A short-term break above $87-88 could mean a moderate breakout for oil prices. Whether a breakout would product significant gains would depend on whether ongoing economic data supports increased demand for oil.


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