Friday, May 19, 2006

Oil and H5N1 updates

Denmark confirms H5N1 bird flu on poultry farm -EU
Thu 18 May 2006 12:17 PM ET

BRUSSELS, May 18 (Reuters) - Denmark has confirmed an outbreak of the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu on a backyard poultry farm on the island of Funen, the European Commission said on Thursday.

The farm consisted of around 100 birds, including laying hens, ducks, geese and peacocks, and was located in the same area in Denmark where cases of H5N1 bird flu occurred in wild birds in March, the Commission said in a statement.Earlier on Thursday, Denmark halted exports of poultry from Funen.

The government said the outbreak might also force Denmark to halt all its poultry exports to some countries, not just those from the island.

Oil rebounds over $69 after four-day rout
Thu May 18, 2006 2:26pm ET

By Matthew Robinson
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil bounced back over $69 a barrel on Thursday, stemming four days of losses on worries over inflation and slowing demand that had brought prices to a five-week low.

Commodities, stock and bond markets reeled Wednesday after the United States reported a steep rise in consumer prices last month, driven by a big jump in fuel costs.
U.S. crude rose 51 cents to $69.20 a barrel as buyers came in strong after prices dipped down to $67.85, the lowest since mid-April, in early Thursday activity. London Brent gained 44 cents to trade at $69.47.

Oil has been in decline since hitting an all-time high of $75.35 on April 24. Some investors say the drop is no more than a pause in a rally that has lifted the cost of a barrel of oil from $20 at the start of 2002.

"I certainly think the current jitters are no more than an overdue correction and pause for breath, and the bull market has plenty of years in it yet," said Mark Mathias, chief executive of London-based investment specialist Dawnay Day Quantum.

Commodities from aluminum to zinc have soared this year as investment money has poured into the market in search of higher returns than stocks or bonds offer. When a sell-off came this week, oil escaped relatively unscathed.

Since Friday, U.S. oil prices have fallen nearly $4, or around five percent, while gold is roughly six percent below a 26-year high and copper has fallen nearly 10 percent since last week's record high.

Olivier Jakob, an analyst at Petromatrix, said oil had been driven higher by real and feared supply disruptions in Iraq, Nigeria and Iran. Only a drop in demand would halt the rally...

"Inflationary pressure is reducing consumers' disposable income and is now translating for the first time in many months into demand warning signs," he told Reuters.
In the world's third-largest oil consumer Japan, a Reuters poll showed Thursday that high oil prices were putting a squeeze on company profits, with firms struggling to pass on energy costs to consumers.

"I think the primary factor (for oil) has been the cut in demand forecasts," said Kevin Norrish, an analyst at Barclays Capital. "Metals are much more sensitive to (inflation) data, which you can see if you look at how much copper is off."

Rising U.S. gasoline stocks have allayed concern that the United States -- consumer of 40 percent of the world's motor fuel -- could struggle to meet peak summer demand.

Gasoline futures in New York fell further after leading oil lower Wednesday when U.S. government data showed domestic motor fuel stocks gained 1.3 million barrels last week on high imports, the third week of rises.

U.S. demand for crude and petroleum products in April fell 1.5 percent year-on-year, with high pump prices cutting gasoline use by 1.9 percent, industry figures showed Wednesday.

"U.S. policies aimed at more use of alternative motor fuels like ethanol in the face of soaring gasoline prices are also behind weaker crude prices," said Koo Cha-kwon, head of global oil research at Korea National Oil Corp. (KNOC).

U.S. Senate Democrats Wednesday offered a plan to cut U.S. oil import dependence 40 percent by 2020 by requiring more use of alternative motor vehicle fuels such as ethanol.

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