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The Fed said it expects the economy will contract between 0.5 and 1.3 percent this year. Its previous forecast from November had a 0.2 percent contraction as the worst case scenario.
Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said Wednesday the group may cut production again at a meeting on March 15, on top of the reduction of 4.2 million barrels a day announced since September. Ramirez said the 13 member cartel would like prices to rise to $70 a barrel.
Net crude oil stocks rose to a 20 month high for the week ended February 6th. It was the eighteenth weekly increase out of 20.
Analysts expect crude stocks will grow by New Era Caps Black Green
The Fed also said the unemployment rate will likely rise to between 8.5 and 8.8 percent this year, higher than its previous forecast of between 7.1 and 7.6 percent. sub prime mortgage sector, and the housing market continues to buckle under the weight of surging foreclosures.
The March contract expires on Friday, and traders switched their focus to the April contract, which rose 62 cents to $38.03. economy has significantly deteriorated in the last few months.
The program would provide incentives to mortgage lenders to help borrowers reduce their payments in an effort to counter a souring housing market at the core of the economic crisis.
downward pressure on crude."
Investors are skeptical that a $787 billion stimulus bill signed this week by President Barack Obama will spark a quick recovery. The White House on Wednesday said the government will spend $75 billion to help prevent millions of Americans from losing their homes.
Light, sweet crude for March delivery jumped by $1.23 to $35.85 a barrel by midafternoon in Europe on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract on Wednesday fell 31 cents to settle at $34.62.
"Bottom line, nothing has changed," said energy analyst Stephen Schork. "There is no way to construe the current fundamental picture anyway other than bearish."
"Inventories are the focus now," said Moltke Leth. "If they rise again, it will put more Ny Cap Black
In other Nymex trading, gasoline futures rose 2 cent to $1.09 a gallon. Heating oil gained 3 cents to $1.17 a gallon, while natural gas for March delivery jumped 4 cents to $4.25 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Crude investors are also concerned a jump in oil inventories is reflecting a steep drop off Nike Cap Photos in demand.
A report from the Commerce Department on Wednesday said construction of new homes and apartments plunged 16.8 percent in January from the previous month, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 466,000 units, a record low.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has struggled to bolster prices as output cuts fail to keep up with falling demand.
While a number of analysts said the program might limit the hemorrhaging in housing prices, the market's cool reception seemed to show how Ny Hats Blue
"$32 and a half is a significant line in the sand," he said. "It's a key support level, and I expect the market to test how strong it is."
Moltke Leth said prices will likely fall to about $32 a barrel, which would test the 10 year average price.
3.5 million barrels when the Energy Department releases inventory data for the week ended Feb. 13, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw Hill Cos. Inventories have risen more than 30 million barrels in the last six weeks.
"OPEC is looking very weak right now," said Moltke Leth said. "There's a lot of chatter from them, but the market isn't really listening."
35 amid grim economic news
much investors have lost confidence in government bailouts.
"The housing data suggests the recession is even worse than we thought," said Christoffer Moltke Leth, head of sales trading for Saxo Capital Markets in Singapore. "W e need to see the housing market stabilize because consumer sentiment is very much correlated to it."
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