Chinese Slowdown Puts a Drag on Energy Markets

Oil is the world’s most important commodity. Its market provides a good indication of where the economy is going.

The price of oil fell for five days before jumping today because of strong consumer confidence numbers in the US. The push down had been largely due to news from China.

Chinese manufacturing activity fell in May after months of slower growth. Its PMI hit a seven-month low of 49.6. A value below 50 indicates a contraction.

Oil consumption in OECD countries has fallen the last few years. In the rest of the world, it is has grown. The biggest of these consumers is China.

China is the world’s major exporter of manufactured goods. The decline in manufacturing activity implies the world’s slowing demand. This in turn will result in a reduced demand for energy.

China is a major factor in the marginal demand for oil. The oil price is not set by speculators, but supply and demand. Producers pump as much as they can. Chinese demand — in no small part driven by radical monetary expansion — is largely responsible for the boom in oil prices, from $20 a barrel in 2001 to current levels.

Chinese slowdown will cause oil prices to fall. When the economy is growing, oil prices rise because there is greater demand for energy. Prices fall when demand falls. This is elementary economics. The price of oil will decline.

— Read more at Marketwatch

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