MARKET WATCH
Crude continuing to hit NYMEX records

OGJ editors
HOUSTON, June 27 -- Crude futures prices for August delivery settled at a record $59.84/bbl June 24 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after briefly hitting $60/bbl earlier in the day. The closing was the fourth record settlement in six trading sessions.

Traders said US refinery capacity constraints are responsible for the escalating oil prices, and they worry that both refiners and producers could have trouble meeting fourth-quarter demand.

The August contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes closed at $59.84/bbl, up by 42¢ and marking a new settlement high for a near-month contract since NYMEX crude futures contracts started trading in 1983.

The September contract increased by 44¢ to close at $60.49/bbl. On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate gained 42¢ to $59.65/bbl.

Heating oil for July delivery declined by 2.52¢ to $1.65/gal on NYMEX. Gasoline for the same month held steady at $1.66/gal.

The July natural gas contract lost 11.3¢ to $7.36/MMbtu June 24 on NYMEX.

"Early gains on hot near-term weather was offset by profit-taking," Enerfax Daily analysts said of the June 24 trading session.

The US National Weather Service forecast calls for normal or below-normal temperatures west of the Rockies and in states along the Gulf of Mexico coast. But above-seasonal forecasts have been issued for much of the rest of the nation

In London, the August contract for North Sea Brent crude climbed by 40¢ to $58.36/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of 11 benchmark crudes increased by 67¢ to $53.36/bbl.

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