Beware the slides of March

05 March 2013

March has provided the turning point for market sentiment in the past. Do not be surprised if it does this year, too

Derek Brower, LONDON: After pushing towards $120 a barrel in February, oil markets look fragile again. Macroeconomics, geopolitics, tepid demand and buoyant supplies are all beginning to weigh on Brent again. March has provided the turning point for market sentiment in the past. Do not be surprised if it does this year, too.

In London on 4 March, Brent was trading above $110/b. Despite the 6% drop since February’s highs, however, those levels still look pricey and vulnerable. Bad macroeconomic news is swirling across the world again.

As it trimmed its oil-demand growth forecast for 2013 last month, the International Energy Agency (IEA) nonetheless remained positive, noting improvements in the Chinese and US economies.

Not for the first time, the agency may have spoken too soon. Worries about both economies have resurfaced. In China, almost all indicators gauging performance in February showed a dip in confidence compared with...

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