Market watch: Prices decline for oil, refined products

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Dec. 12 -- Futures prices for crude and refined products continued to slump Tuesday as international markets focused on growing supplies and decreased demand.

The January contract for benchmark US sweet, light crudes dropped another 29¢ to $18.08/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while the February contract lost 33¢ to $18.46/bbl Tuesday. In after-hours electronic trading, the January position remained steady while the February contract dipped to $18.43/bbl.

Home heating oil for January delivery was down 0.67¢ to 49.99¢/gal on the NYMEX. Unleaded gasoline for the same month fell 0.48¢ to 50.61¢/gal.

The January contract for natural gas continued to rise, however, gaining 5.6¢ to $2.80/Mcf.

Following the close of that trading session, the American Petroleum Institute reported that US oil inventories increased by 272,000 bbl last week. Gasoline stocks rose by 1.2 million bbl during the same period, while US distillate stocks, including home heating oil, were up a whopping 3.5 million bbl.

The International Energy Agency also reported early Wednesday that oil industry stocks among member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development grew by 220,000 b/d during October to a total 2.7 billion bbl of primary storage at the start of November. That means a "comfortable" supply of fuels for this winter, said IEA officials.

In London, the January contract for North Sea Brent crude lost 26¢ to $17.91/bbl Tuesday on the International Petroleum Exchange. However, the January natural gas contract added 5.7¢ to the equivalent of $3.90/Mcf on the IPE.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' benchmark basket of seven crudes lost 33¢ Tuesday to close at $16.62/bbl.

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