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Our market view - week 20

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The oil price settled at $112 on Friday, well off a peak of above $128 in March, on new uncertainty over the global economy and signs that tougher sanctions on Iran are not straining the world’s oil supplies.

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China’s key economic data for April slowed more than expected – including industrial production, electricity generation, business investment activity and export growth.  Chinese oil demand grew by just 2.7% yoy in the first quarter, down sharply from the 10.2% seen in the same period last year. 1Q GDP growth came in at 8.1%, down from average 9.2% growth in 2011.
OPEC is working to bring down oil prices, pumping more than its official target even as exports from Iran dwindle due to tighter sanctions aimed at forcing the country to halt its nuclear programme. Top exporter Saudi Arabia pumped 10.1 mbd in April, its highest for more than 30 years, to bring oil prices down to a level of around $100 a barrel. The Saudi oil minister said he would like to see global oil inventories rise before the seasonal increase in demand in the second half of the year.
The IEA said on Friday that oil prices were likely to stay high, despite a dramatic improvement in world supply and a big build in stocks, due to the tensions between Iran and the West.
Sell-off pressure in commodities on worries about another blow-up in the euro zone crisis and a slowdown in China. Hedge funds and big speculators made the biggest-ever cuts in their bullish bets on oil. Combined crude contracts dropped by nearly 35%, a decline of nearly $8 bn worth.

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UK gas prices are pushed lower on weak demand
Gas prices edge lower as mild weather approaches. The price will continue to deteriorate on the European demand weakness, unless suppliers take gas off the market. The need to refill storage could help increase demand over the summer. LNG is being diverted to a much stronger Asian market, but this may not be enough. Spot gas prices in Asia are approaching $18/mmBtu, twice the European level.

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