Goldman Sees New Oil Rally

EnergyReuters

Goldman Sachs, which in April predicted this week's major correction in oil prices, said on Friday that oil could surpass its recent highs by 2012 as global oil supplies continue to tighten.

The Wall Street bank, seen as one of the most influential in commodity markets, said it did not rule out a further short-term fall after Thursday's near record drop, especially if economic data continued to disappoint.

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But the bank reaffirmed its traditional long-term bullish view of oil, helping crude to pare some of its earlier heavy losses on Friday.

"It is important to emphasize that even as oil prices are pulling back from their recent highs, we expect them to return to or surpass the recent highs by next year," Goldman Sachs' analysts said in a research note.

"We continue to believe that the oil supply-demand fundamentals will tighten further over the course of this year, and likely reach critically tight levels by early next year should Libyan oil supplies remain off the market," it said.

Oil prices remained extremely volatile on Friday, roiled by better than expected U.S. jobs data, which eased fears about global economic recovery that contributed to a 10-percent price crash on Thursday 1/8O/R 3/8.

Goldman said it believed that this week's correction in oil prices, which fell from above $125 per barrel of Brent crude to below $106 on Friday, was sparked by disappointing economic data releases and U.S. oil inventory data. 1/8EIA/S 3/8

"The sell-off yesterday (May 5) has likely removed a large portion of the risk premium that we believe has been embedded in oil prices, which could suggest further downside may be limited from here."

At 12:30 p.m. EDT (1630 GMT), Brent crude oil was up $1.05 at $111.85 a barrel, having earlier hit a 2-1/2 month low of $105.15. U.S. crude was down 5 cents at $99.75 a barrel, having earlier dropped to $94.63 a barrel.

ROCKING MARKETS

Goldman rocked markets in April by calling a nearly $20 fall in Brent, saying speculators had pushed prices ahead of fundamentals. 1/8ID:nN12168871 3/8

Goldman was one of the first banks to predict $100 oil last decade, in 2005 when prices were closer to $50 a barrel, but it stayed bullish for some time after oil peaked at $147 in 2008.

"In terms of timing, Goldman got it (the crash) right this time. Well done," said an oil trader with a major rival bank.

"It (this week's fall) was a move driven by macro funds after U.S. and German data disappointed and (European Central Bank President Jean-Claude) Trichet did not deliver on yet another rate rise," he said.

"With Asian funds having liquidated some of their position today I think we will now see prices stabilizing he added.

GOOD BUYING OPPORTUNITY?

Goldman's short-term view was rejected by many of its banking rivals back in April, with both Barclays Capital and Morgan Stanley arguing there was little evidence higher prices were causing demand destruction in the United States, the world's largest oil consumer. 1/8ID:nLDE7431K 3/8

Barclays Capital and Deutsche Bank said on Friday the current levels might be a good buying opportunity.

"While further downside from potential weaker macro releases cannot be ruled out, the general trend from here should be higher, rather than lower, in our view," said Amrita Sen, an oil analyst at Barclays.

She added that worries about tight supplies and unrest in the Middle East will outweigh concerns about U.S. gasoline demand destruction or slower Asian demand due to inflation.

Deutsche Bank commented: "We believe composure will return to commodity markets as underlying fundamentals remain bullish in our view... We believe the collapse in oil prices this week is more a positioning event than a change underlying fundamentals."

Andrew Moorfield, the head of oil division at Lloyds, said he saw oil at around $110 in 2011 and $100-$110 going forward.

"Despite this week, the demand curve for oil remains with an upward trajectory... Globally, this general fall in commodities prices will reduce the drag many were starting to think they were having on economic growth."

Colin O'Shea, head of commodities at Hermes, who helps manage over $2 billion, also said the correction was a good opportunity for investors to get into the market if they missed out on the previous rally.

"Fundamentally, in the energy space and in crude oil, not a lot has actually changed. We have got diminishing spare capacity, globally demand is picking up, we have got some supply-side issues -- so the factors that caused the price rises right throughout 2010 are still there," he said.

(Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov, additional reporting by Claire Milhench, editing by Anthony Barker and Alden Bentley) ((dmitri.zhdannikov@thomsonreuters.com, +44 207 542 3813, Reuters Messaging: dmitri.zhdannikov.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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