Oil markets at the heart of another weekly decline

December 18, 2014 - Weekly Pricing Pulse

The IHS Markit Materials Price Index (MPI) tumbled 4.2% last week, driven by the usual suspects: oil and chemical markets.

It is both the magnitude and pace of the oil market rout that are spooking markets. Peak-to-trough through last week, oil prices have fallen $50 over the past 25 weeks. With the correction drawing comparisons to the post-Lehman fallout, it is of note that a similar peak-to-trough in 2008 saw prices sink $112 over 27 weeks, although prices had further room to fall then.

This will come as little solace to those most exposed to oil-market instability, as the Central Bank of Russia moved aggressively to defend the ruble, while junk debt and stock prices of oil and gas companies were battered. In the week ahead, commodity markets will be focused on the Federal Reserve's December statement for a read into policy tightening in 2015.

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