Even though OPEC is racing to cut production again, it doesn't appear the cuts will prevent oil from sliding to $50/barrel, as sharply lower retail sales have spooked the market and cast serious doubts on economic growth, and demand for energy.
The U.S. Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales fell by a record 2.8% last month, surpassing the old mark of a 2.65% drop set in November 2001 in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks.
The news prompted OPEC to schedule a second emergency meeting in as many months to shore up prices, but the previous production cut failed to stop oil's slide, and prices have fallen another 8% since the meeting. It's unlikely further action will stop the bleeding either, given global recessionary fears. Oil fell to $56 during Friday trading, nearly two-thirds off its summer high of just under $150.
Meanwhile, higher-than-expected storage injections of natural gas pushed NYMEX natural gas prices down to $6.05/MMBtu in Friday intraday trading -- again, well off historic highs seen earlier this year, although prices rebounded a bit later in the day.
It all means Texas customers who have not taken advantage of the current buying opportunity still have a chance to find a cheap electric rate and lock-in savings.
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