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Crude soars as Bernanke hints at willingness to move on U.S. economy

Commodities Aug 31, 2012 02:19PM ET
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This article has already been saved in your Saved Items - Crude oil futures shot up in U.S. trading Friday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a speech that monetary authorities remain willing to intervene and stimulate the U.S. economy with easing measures should conditions warrant.

Upon digesting the news, energy markets interpreted Bernanke's words to mean that the U.S. central bank remains poised on the sidelines and ready to move should the recovery show signs of waning.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in October traded at USD96.77 a barrel on Friday, up 2.27%, off from a session high of USD96.91 and up from an earlier session low of USD94.52.

Bernanke said in his speech at the Fed's annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that the Fed remains ready to intervene with stimulus even though he made no mention of more specific plans.

Monetary stimulus tools tend to weaken the dollar by design, pushing down interest rates and sending commodities prices rising, especially oil, which shoots up on hopes for sustained demand that comes from a jolted economy and also due to a weaker dollar, which makes the commodity a nicely-priced asset in the eyes of investors holding other currencies.

"The costs of nontraditional policies, when considered carefully, appear manageable, implying that we should not rule out the further use of such policies if economic conditions warrant," Bernanke said in prepared remarks at his speech.

"Over the past five years, the Federal Reserve has acted to support economic growth and foster job creation, and it is important to achieve further progress, particularly in the labor market. Taking due account of the uncertainties and limits of its policy tools, the Federal Reserve will provide additional policy accommodation as needed to promote a stronger economic recovery and sustained improvement in labor market conditions in a context of price stability."

Solid factory orders in the U.S. bolstered crude as well.

U.S. factory orders rose 2.8% in July from June, outpacing market forecasts for a gain of 1.9%.

Elsewhere in the U.S. the final reading for the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index came to 74.3 in August, up from analysts' calls for 73.6, the preliminary reading for August and also July's final reading.

Also in the U.S., the Chicago PMI fell more than expected in July, data showed on Friday.

In a report, research group Kingsbury International said that the Chicago PMI fell to a seasonally adjusted 53.0 from 53.7 in the preceding month.

Analysts had expected the Chicago PMI to fall to 53.5 last month.

On the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for October delivery were up 0.16% and trading at USD114.50 a barrel, up USD17.73 from its U.S. counterpart.

Crude soars as Bernanke hints at willingness to move on U.S. economy

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