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EU finance ministers agree to publish weekly oil stocks data

EU

European Union finance ministers agreed on Tuesday to publish oil stocks data on weekly basis in an effort to improve market transparency in face of soaring oil prices.

“We now have political agreement on improving transparency on oil stocks,” French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, whose country holds the EU rotating presidency, told reporters after chairing a meeting with her EU counterparts. “We have a political agreement that we publish weekly these statistics on oil stocks,” she added. The EU currently publishes oil stocks data once a month, while the United States, Japan and South Korea have done so on weekly basis. “It means we can have a consistent, coherent picture -- a view on what’s happening on oil markets,” Lagarde said.

As the world oil prices reached record highs above $140 per barrel, a lack of transparency in the oil market was blamed as part of the reason for the hike since it allowed room for speculators to drive up prices. Based on the agreement, the European Commission was scheduled to present a formal proposal in October. “In general, we are in favor of greater transparency” in oil markets, said EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Joaquin Almunia.

However, EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy rejected the claim that speculation was the main factor in current oil market volatility. “Speculative investors could contribute to some short-term volatility, but it is the fundamentals of the market, supply and demand, which are the main drivers there,” he said. The one-day monthly meeting of EU finance ministers was largely focused on how to deal with soaring oil prices, but a French proposal to cut sales tax on fuel was resisted by Germany and other member states. (people.com.cn)

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