Tags: Gas | Price | Hikes | forecasting

Petroleum Analyst: Gas Price Hikes Make Forecasting Difficult

Wednesday, 07 March 2012 08:24 AM

Gasoline prices are rising so fast so early in the year that experts may need to bump up forecasts for prices later during the peak season, says Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, a fuel price tracking website.

"The rise in price is so unbelievable that we may have to revise upward our previous gasoline forecast," DeHaan tells the Los Angeles Times.

The U.S. average already has surpassed the lower end of GasBuddy's forecast for mid-May of $3.75 to $4.15 a gallon.

Gasoline prices are high due in part to geopolitical tensions in the Middle East threatening to escalate into military conflicts between Iran and the U.S. and its allies.

Prices rise during the spring and summer, when refining feedstocks rise in price and driving increases in the United States.

Speculators in capital markets may be pushing up prices, as hedge funds and even retirement funds pump money into crude futures and derivatives on expectations for further gains, a behavior that tends to inflate the asset beyond more organic supply and demand factors.

"There is a large speculative element to this early rally," says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, the L.A. Times adds.

"The Commodities Futures Trading Commission has seen the greatest buying skew ever among the hedge funds, commodity pools and index funds that often park money in gasoline futures and options" as well as oil futures, Kloza adds.

Democratic lawmakers recently sent a letter to the commission demanding the agency implement new regulations to crack down on speculative trading.

"As the cost for American people to fill their gas tanks continues to skyrocket, the CFTC continues to drag its feet on imposing strict speculation limits to eliminate, prevent, or diminish excessive oil speculation," the members of Congress write in the letter, according to Reuters.

"We urge you to take immediate action to impose strong and meaningful position limits, and to utilize all authorities available to you to make sure that the price of oil and gasoline reflects the fundamentals of supply and demand."

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Wednesday, 07 March 2012 08:24 AM
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