MARKET WATCH
NYMEX crude oil reaches $53/bbl before retreating

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Oct. 8 -- Crude futures prices for the November contract climbed to $53/bbl during trading Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange before retreating to settle at a new high of $52.67/bbl, up 65¢ from Wednesday's close.

Thursday's close was another 21-year high for the crude oil futures price. The December crude oil contract gained 71¢ to $52.24/bbl Thursday on NYMEX.

Traders said the market was bullish on continued concerns about possible global oil supply disruptions and also the impact of the hurricane season on US oil and natural gas production. In addition, Nigeria faces the possibility of a strike and violence.

Meanwhile, Norwegian oil rig workers planned to escalate their strike, cutting total output by 55,000 b/d of oil, the Norwegian Shipowners Association told Dow Jones Newswires Thursday.

The dispute between the association and the Federation of Oil Worker's Union started 3 months ago, "and there is no end in sight," the association's chief negotiator, Ketil Lenning, told Dow Jones.

In Nigeria, a Senate committee urged the federal government to roll back retail fuel prices to their levels before the latest increases. The recommendation suggests adoption of a "price modulating band" with a floor price and a ceiling price.

Trade unions in Nigeria have said they will begin a general strike next week, tentatively on Oct. 14.

Energy prices
On NYMEX Thursday, heating oil closed 1¢ higher to finish at $1.43/gal. Gasoline for the same month increased by 1.44¢ to $1.40/gal.

NYMEX natural gas futures for November delivery jumped 21¢ to $7.25/Mcf, and analysts said the gas prices were following crude oil prices higher.

In London, the November contract for North Sea Brent increased by 91¢ to $48.90/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of seven benchmark crudes rose by 82¢ to $45.08/bbl Thursday.

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