*By Isaac Cohen
Oil prices resumed their downward trend, crossing the barrier of $30 per barrel. By the end of the previous week, they had climbed to more than $32, generating expectations that oil prices were approaching the bottom and the upward trend had begun and could be sustained.
However, the supply and demand factors pushing down crude oil prices have not changed much. Prices of almost all commodities keep falling, with the exception of cocoa beans. The dollar continues strengthening, while there is less growth in both emerging market and advanced economies, except in the United States. Also contributing to the world oil glut, is the expected return of Iran’s exports to world markets and the first crude oil exports from the United States in 40 years. On New Year’s Eve, the first shipment of US crude oil departed from Corpus Christi, followed by another shipment from Houston, both in Texas. The first shipment was destined to Trieste in Italy and from there to Bavaria in Germany, while the second went to a pipeline in Marseille for a refinery in Switzerland.
According to the Commodities Markets Outlook, recently released by the World Bank, oil prices declined, in 2015, almost 50 percent on an annual average and are expected to further decrease 27 percent in 2016.
*International analyst and consultant. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio. Former Director, UNECLAC.