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CNBC:U.S. Crude Oil Prices Fall as Inventories Rise

Article published: 16 November 2023

IB Economics Syllabus: Microeconomics (Supply and Demand, Market Equilibrium)

In a significant development in the energy market, U.S. crude oil prices have fallen by 5%, with the West Texas Intermediate December contract settling at $72.90 a barrel and the Brent January contract at $77.42 a barrel. This price drop, the lowest level since early July, is attributed to a rise in U.S. crude inventories by 3.6 million barrels, while production remained steady at a record 13.2 million barrels per day. Additionally, U.S. industrial production fell by 0.6% in October, influenced by the United Auto Workers strike. The article also highlights the global context, noting a slowdown in China’s crude refining throughput by 2.8% in October, suggesting a decrease in demand in the world’s second-largest economy. These factors collectively contribute to the current market dynamics, with speculation and hedge fund activities also playing a role.

IB Economics (IA) Commentary Suggestions:

In your IA, consider analyzing the interplay of supply and demand in shaping crude oil prices. Use supply and demand diagrams to demonstrate how increased inventories (supply) and fluctuating demand impact market equilibrium. This case also allows for an exploration of market responses to external shocks, such as industrial strikes and global economic trends. The key economic concept to focus on is efficiency, examining how market forces and external factors determine the efficient allocation of resources in the crude oil market.

Source of image: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

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