Oil Goes Yo-Yo, Falling 4% on Volatility Spike, Despite Suez Jam
By Barani Krishnan
Investing.com — The volatility in oil isn't going away despite the risk to the global crude trade from the tanker jam on the Suez Canal.
Crude prices slumped again Thursday, falling more than 4% after Wednesday’s 6% leap recouped almost all what the market lost in the previous session.
And that’s not including the 7% plunge from a week ago that started the entire roller-coaster, when a renewed Covid-19 wave in Europe turned the direction of a market that until then had gone almost one way for four months — up.
“Oil is once again trading lower as recent volatility calms, but is still a long way from petering out,” said Sophie Griffiths, markets analyst at OANDA. Following the 6% swings in the previous two sessions, Wednesday’s decline “seems tranquil by comparison”, she noted.
By 10:48 AM ET (14:48 GMT), New York-traded West Texas Intermediate , the benchmark for U.S. crude, was down $2.86, or 5%, at $58.32, after falling to as low as $58.31 during the session.
London-traded Brent , the global benchmark for crude, slid $2.57, or 4%, to a session low of $61.84.
Few could make immediate sense of the market’s renewed downturn. Some viewed the crisis on the Suez Canal — which, logically, ought to be positive to oil, given the delay caused to crude shipments — into a negative, saying there were worries now about oil demand.
Powerful winds forced Ever Given — a Panama-flagged, Taiwanese-operated and Japanese-owned ship — aground on one of the canal’s banks, blocking nearly the entire width of the waterway and producing a large traffic jam in one of the world’s most important maritime arteries.
As of Thursday morning, hundreds of ships were stuck at each end of the 120-mile canal, connecting the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. A salvage ship, meanwhile, worked on trying to free the Ever Given, described to be the size of New York’s Empire State Building, from the canal which carries roughly 10% of worldwide shipping traffic.
Shipping insurer Lloyds (LON: LLOY ) said the grounding of a similar-sized ship in 2016 (the 19,000 teu CSCL Indian Ocean on the Elb) in 2016 took six days to refloat.
Others pointed to continued worries about Europe’s Covid-19 situation, where there was a growing sense of chaos despite the bloc and the U.K. agreeing on Thursday to work together on vaccines ahead of an EU summit later in the day to be attended, remotely, by President Joe Biden.
A third wave of coronavirus infections is raging across Europe, with the British variant (B117) dominating. The World Health Organization said the number of cases on the Continent had risen on average by 12% in a week, but in some countries the rise has been much larger.
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