Crude choppy, dips amid euro zone worries

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. crude oil futures prices edged lower on Friday in choppy trading amid concerns about the euro zone economy and as investors continued to square positions ahead of the January crude contract’s expiration early next week.

The focus was beginning to shift to the February crude contract, with the January’s contract expiration on tap on Monday.

Brokers pointed to Thursday’s weak close carrying over into Friday’s trading sentiment and noted that the dollar had managed to bounce a bit off its early lows, helping cause crude to trim its early rise.

Ratings agency Moody’s gave an emphatic thumbs-down to Europe’s efforts to resolve a debt crisis, slashing Ireland’s credit rating as EU leaders took no new action to prevent market turmoil spreading.

FUNDAMENTALS

* On the New York Mercantile Exchange, January crude slipped 12 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $87.58 a barrel at 8:45 a.m. EST (1345 GMT), trading from $87.01 to $88.37.

* U.S. Northeast temperatures were forecast to be near to below normal over the next 10 days. The region is the main heating oil consuming region.

* Northern Europe’s temperatures also were forecast to be below normal.

* China has extended its 5 percent resource tax on domestic sales of crude oil and natural gas to 12 western regions and provinces, a government official said.

* North Korea said on Friday it would strike again at the South if a live-firing drill by Seoul on a disputed island went ahead, with an even stronger response than last month’s shelling that killed four people.

MARKETS NEWS

* The euro was unable to sustain gains made on upbeat German data as a sharp downgrade of Ireland’s credit rating reminded investors that some euro zone countries continue to face debt problems.

* U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Friday as wary investors kept their eyes on the euro zone debt crisis after Ireland’s credit rating was slashed.

* Copper prices rose as the market focused on strong fundamentals and expectations of strong demand from China and as the dollar eased against the euro.

* World stocks rose, partly lifted by firmer commodities as the dollar slipped, while Irish and Portuguese bond yields increased after Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Ireland by five notches.

* Gold firmed slightly in Europe, supported by the dollar’s weakness.

UPCOMING DATA/EVENTS

* Conference Board releases U.S. leading economic indicators for November. 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT) Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a rise of 1.1 percent following October’s 0.5 percent increase.

* Commodities Futures Trading Commission positions data report at 3:30 p.m. EST (2030 GMT) on Friday

* The NYMEX January crude contract expires on Monday.

* NYMEX crude oil for January fell 12 cents to $87.58 a barrel by 8:45 a.m. in volume of 26,610 lots.

(Reporting by Robert Gibbons; Editing by John Picinich)

Crude choppy, dips amid euro zone worries