Oil price rout: How falling oil prices impact the Singapore economy, businesses and consumers

The price of oil this week plunged more than 55 per cent to under US$50 a barrel since June last year. This is the lowest price since the depths of the 2009 recession, and some analysts are saying the  rout could continue to US$35 a barrel in the near term.The Arabic phrase for "oil below US$50" is now a trending hashtag in the Middle East.

Here are some stories from The Straits Times archives which explain the oil price crash and its implications for the economy, key industries and consumers. 

Economy

Singapore will benefit from cheaper oil: Analysts

Singapore will be a big winner from cheaper oil although the central bank may have to let the currency weaken if inflation sinks too low, analysts said yesterday.

Oxford Economics said in a recent report that the economy here would likely grow at a slightly faster pace while the trade balance would improve significantly if crude oil falls to US$40 (S$53) a barrel. Read more here

A smoother ride on growth path

The latest dramatic plunge in oil prices to below US$49 a barrel, with no apparent bottom in sight, has come as a shock to investors and analysts, given the relatively stable state of the global economy.

But the fall is also an unexpected bonanza for consumers, and should act as an international stimulus for growth and, in turn, Singapore's economy. Read more here

Pump prices

Pump prices slide again, hitting six-year lows

Pump prices have fallen again, bringing a litre of petrol back to what it cost in 2009 - the last time crude oil was near the current level of less than US$50 a barrel.

The latest round of price reductions started last Thursday, at Singapore Petroleum Co (SPC) and Caltex. By last Friday, Shell and Esso had followed suit. Read more here

Petrochemical industry

Stressful year for oil and gas sector

Oil and gas producers and the firms that service the energy industry are in for a tough year as slumping oil prices hit new lows, said Moody's Investors Service yesterday.

The warning came as crude slid below US$50 a barrel yesterday for the first time in nearly six years. Read more here

Airline and shipping companies

Some airlines cut fuel levy

Air travellers may be close to reaping the savings from lower crude prices that motorists have been enjoying at the pump.

Some global carriers are starting to cut fuel surcharges, and therefore fares, but so far, Singapore Airlines (SIA) and SilkAir are not among them. Read more here

Maersk sees stable but slower growth in regional demand

Container shipping giant Maersk Line has so far not seen major benefits from the fall in bunker and crude oil prices, and its profit outlook is still driven primarily by global trade levels.

The company's recently appointed Asia-Pacific chief executive, Mr Lars Mikael Jensen, told The Straits Times that Maersk Line expects stable but slower growth in regional demand. Read more here

Exchange rates

The ringgit rout: Good or bad for Singapore?

The Malaysian ringgit, Asia's worst-performing currency in 2014, fell to fresh historic lows at the start of the new year on news that crude oil prices had broken below the psychologically significant US$50 threshold.

Even in the depths of the Asian financial crisis, the lowest the ringgit ever sank to was RM2.45 to one Singapore dollar in June 1998. Read more here

Consumer prices

Singapore gets its first taste of deflation in five years

The relatively rare phenomenon of negative inflation hit Singapore last month - its first appearance in five years.

The effect - also known as deflation - occurs when prices in one month decline over the same period a year earlier. Read more here

Property and stock markets

When falling oil prices weaken property demand

Just by comparing the charts tracking the movement of crude oil prices and the local real estate prices, there would appear to be some correlation between the two asset classes.

What the charts show is that in the past 20 years, whenever oil prices are on the upswing, Singapore property prices climb as well. But when oil prices tumble, property prices soften too. Read more here

Oil woes 'unlikely to rein in stocks'

Trouble in Europe and a plunge in crude oil prices are unlikely to halt the climb in global stocks this year, said DBS Bank.

Its chief investment officer of group wealth management and private banking, Mr Lim Say Boon, said at a briefing yesterday that "the stock market started the year with a new wall of worries". Read more here