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Let's take a commodity as an example - oil. Suppose there is suddenly a high demand for a 30-day oil futures contract. Will that push up the spot price on oil?

I would guess that this would affect the spot price, regardless on whether the purchasers decide to take delivery of the oil, because this would show confidence in the market

I ask this question because I have heard arguments that speculators have a negligible role in influencing high commodity prices, since they never actually change the level of production or consumption of the underlying resource.

Thanks!

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Suppose there is suddenly a high demand for a 30-day oil futures contract. Will that push up the spot price on oil
YES: This would definitely push up the spot prices. As the tendency would be if its very expensive tommorow, buy today when its cheap, we would anyway be needing it / consuming it.

So to this extent speculators would definitely influence the prices. However if the demand is entirely due to speculation, and not real, then the prices would get corrected and fall as when its time of execution, there would be no buyers at the premium price.
Thus speculators at times create volatility in various markets and hence time to time various regulators (not in context of Oil prices, but other financial markets) takes steps to curb speculators

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Positions in the futures market are just one of many, many factors that can color someone's picture of where the market is heading.

When looking at sources, see who's paying for the advertisements in the magazine or newsletter, or on the website.

Futures aren't just for speculators. They're also for suppliers who want (for a premium) to define their costs for the underlying commodity out a year or more. In other words, they may intend to take delivery on the commodity.

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Supply and demand is important, but storage is also important. The accepted answer to your question says, "As the tendency would be if its very expensive tommorow, buy today when its cheap, we would anyway be needing it / consuming it." This kind of logic can fail with commodities. If the demand is being driven by consumers who do not have enough storage, then they can't buy more now to save for later without paying for more storage. In fact, they may prefer to buy the future, as they anticipate having enough storage then.

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    Agreed, storage cost, transportation, life of the commodity in question etc do have a bearing. However a future prices does definitely impact the spot including all these considerations. – Dheer Jun 4 '15 at 6:04

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