MARKET WATCH
Crude futures price rises in New York market

Sam Fletcher
Senior Writer

HOUSTON, June 26 -- Crude prices continued to creep up June 23 in the New York market in the aftermath of a smaller-than-expected build in US gasoline inventories.

It marked the third consecutive increase of oil futures prices since the US Energy Information Administration said US gasoline stocks increased by only 300,000 bbl to 213.4 million bbl during the week ended June 16 (OGJ Online, June 21, 2006).

Meanwhile, Iran's deputy nuclear negotiator rejected a United Nations Security Council request that it postpone its uranium enrichment program as a precondition of negotiation of that issue. Instead, he suggested that negotiations might lead to a postponement.

Energy prices
The August contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes rose by 3¢ to $70.87/bbl June 23 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The September contract was up 4¢ to $71.77/bbl. Gasoline for July delivery increased by 0.96¢ to $2.13/gal, but heating oil for the same month lost 0.92¢ to $1.96/gal.

The July natural gas contract fell by 21.3¢ to $6.23/MMbtu on NYMEX. "After 3 weeks of bullish injections in the mid-70s [bcf] range, we would have expected natural gas at higher levels than what we are seeing today," said analysts in the Houston office of Raymond James & Associates Inc.

EIA reported the injection of 79 bcf of gas into US underground storage in the week ended June 16. That was up from an injection of 77 bcf the previous week, but down from the revised injection of 80 bcf in the same period last year. US gas storage now approaches 2.5 tcf, 451 bcf above year-ago levels and 643 bcf above the 5-year average.

In London, the August IPE contract for North Sea Brent dipped by 2¢ to $69.93/bbl. However, the July gas oil contract gained $2.50 to $627.75/tonne.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries increased by 4¢ to $64.40/bbl on June 23.

Contact Sam Fletcher at samf@ogjonline.com.

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