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Oil Down Slightly in Asia

18 Jul

Oil futures traded modestly lower in the early part of Thursday’s Asian session as traders in the region digested a swath of key central bank and data points out of the U.S. Wednesday.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for September delivery fell 0.14% to USD106.21 per barrel in Asian trading Thursday.

Crude traded slightly higher Wednesday in the U.S. after the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 6.9 million barrels in the week ended July 12, blowing past expectations for a decline of 2 million barrels.

mcx crude oil

Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 367.0 million barrels as of last week. The report also showed that total motor gasoline inventories increased by 3.1 million barrels, confounding expectations for an decline of 0.5 million barrels.

Oil also got a small lift after the Fed’s Beige Book business survey, which encompasses the central bank’s 12 regional banks, showed manufacturing expanded in most regions since the last report. The report showed modest growth across 11 districts with Dallas showing strong growth.

In other economic news out Wednesday, the Commerce Department said U.S. housing starts fell 9.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 836,000 unit in June, the lowest reading since August 2012. Analysts expected starts to rise to 959,000 units. Bad weather was cited as one of the reasons for the slack reading.

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Meanwhile, Angola, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, forecast its daily output for September will be 1.67 million barrels, well below the 2 million barrels per day target. The country expects to pump 1.7 million barrels a day next month. Angola is Africa’s second-largest oil producer behind fellow OPEC member Nigeria.

This year, Angola has averaged about 1.72 million barrels per day in production, below the daily average of 1.9 million barrels for Nigeria. Angola is banking on new offshore discoveries to boost output in the future.

Elsewhere, Brent futures for September delivery inched down 0.04% to USD108.63 per barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange.

Investors Flee Gold as Long Positions Hunker Their 2002 low

17 Jul

Although gold is perched near its highest levels in nearly three weeks, investors remain wary of buying it. BofA analysts note that market players have largely liquidated their bullish bets on gold: at USD 2.1 billion, bullion long positions are hunkered at their lowest levels since 2002, the bank said.

mcx gold tradingGold has fallen out of favor with large speculators, according to data from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, with positioning sliding to its lowest spot in nearly a decade.

Although gold is perched near its highest levels in nearly three weeks, investors remain wary of buying it. BofA analysts note that market players have largely liquidated their bullish bets on gold: at USD 2.1 billion, bullion long positions are hunkered at their lowest levels since 2002, the bank said.

Meanwhile, “speculative shorts in gold are their largest ever,” BofA added.

Despite global central banks’ having no intention of removing their collective foot from the monetary throttle anytime soon, gold bulls have been chastened by a dizzying selloff that has shaved more than 25 percent from bullion’s value in 2013.

Hedge fund guru John Paulson’s flagship gold fund has plummeted by more than 65 percent this year, according to reports.

Over the last week, gold has staged a modest rebound. Still, it is far from the heady days of 2011, when the Federal Reserve’s loose monetary policy prompted gold bugs to bid bullion up to a record USD 1,900 an ounce.

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BofA called market signals on gold “extreme” and said that positioning “remains in the contrarian buy zone,” given that the metal has broken above a near-term resistance area at USD 1,270 an ounce. That creates a “near-term base and positioning-led squeeze higher,” the bank added.

—By CNBC’s Javier E. David