Rogue Trader Shocks Oil Market

Crude hits highest level in a year on unauthorized trades
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2009 7:20 AM CDT
An oil pump decorated to look like a bird stands at rest in oil fields near Awali, Bahrain.   (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)
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(Newser) – On Tuesday, the price of oil spiked unexpectedly to its highest level in 2009—a barrel of crude jumped from $71 to $73.50 in just one hour, for no apparent reason. Yesterday the reason became clear: a rogue broker in London with PVM, the world's largest petroleum brokerage, had conducted unauthorized trades that cost the company $10 million, reports the Financial Times. Since then, the cost of oil has eased to $66.5 a barrel, down 10% from Tuesday's peak.

During that hour of trading on Tuesday, traders exchanged futures contracts for more than 16 million barrels of oil—32 times the average. The rogue trader allegedly accounted for at least half of that trading, while other brokers bought in to chase the rally. This is the second recent case of rogue trading in the petroleum market in recent weeks; in May, a Morgan Stanley broker was banned for buying and selling while drunk.