Oil Market Summary for 04/12/2010 to 04/16/2010
Oil prices plunged on Friday after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged Goldman Sachs with fraud in its marketing of certain subprime mortgage securities, amid a general sell-off in financial and commodity markets.
The allegations against one of the biggest market makers in virtually every markets dampened speculation heading into the weekend. Much like the volcanic eruption in Iceland spewed a cloud of dust over northern Europe that grounded all air travel, the SEC charge cast a pall over financial markets.
The May contract for West Texas Intermediate, which expires next week, settled down $2.27 or 2.7% at $83.24 after briefly dipping below $83 in the wake of the SEC announcement. The benchmark contract settled at $84.92 a week earlier.
Goldman Sachs had no immediate comment. Prices had been drifting lower in equities and other markets prior to the announcement, but fell sharply afterwards, led by a plunge of more than 10% in Goldman shares.
Some analysts speculated that prices could rebound on Monday once the dust has settled, but market participants remained uncertain about the long-term impact of the SEC charge on Goldman's business and on that of other major banks.
In the past, Goldman has rejected charges of misleading investors when it sold securities that it subsequently shorted in its own trading, asserting that that is the role of a market maker. Goldman is one of the biggest participants in the energy futures markets.
Oil prices started the week soft, but firmed up after Wednesday's inventory report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which showed a small decline in crude inventories after 10 successive weeks of increases.
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