Tuesday, September 2, 2008

With Gustav's Strength Falling After Landfall, Oil and Natural Gas Drop

On Monday, oil dropped more than 4% and natural gas fell more than 6% in electronic trading on news of Gustav's weakening. While it will still take a few days to check to make sure that the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the only U.S. port capable of offloading the biggest oil tankers, and all of the oil rigs in the gulf are fine, the news of a less powerful storm than once thought was good news for all.

The response by the governments, local, state, and federal, definitely displayed that we have all learned from Hurricane Katrina. Close to 2 million residents fled as the storm approached, and there was said to be less than 10,000 residents that remained in New Orleans. The evacuation of the gulf coast residents went off without a hitch, and the cooperation of all levels of government and the residents cannot be understated. We all remember scenes from Katrina, and no one wanted to have that happen again.

Thankfully, the levees in New Orleans looked to have held thus far with some flooding, but very minimal compared to what we all remember from Hurricane Katrina. Six inches of water pooled in some streets near the vulnerable Industrial Canal, and officials cautioned that while the levees had not been breached, they were still in danger.

One company, EQECAT, said it estimated Gustav's insured losses at $6 billion to $10 billion. While not a small sum, it pales in comparison to Katrina's insured losses that were more than $40 billion with total damage around $80 billion.

For the rest of the week, the economic data that will come out will be the big mover with news from the political race for the White House also causing some movement from the abbreviated Republican National Convention. Most traders will be looking to evaluate Sen. Barak Obama's policies versus those of Sen. John McCain's tax and energy policies, especially following McCain's selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Sources: Reuters, AP, CBS Marketwatch

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