MARKET WATCH: Oil, gas prices fall, wiping out previous gains

Sam Fletcher
OGJ Senior Writer

HOUSTON, July 19 -- Energy prices fell July 18 wiping out most if not all of the rebound of various commodities in the previous session, with crude down 1% in the New York market on a stronger dollar and talk of another possible release of oil from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

“Oil slid sharply yesterday, mostly on concerns over a sluggish US recovery (in light of last week’s economic data), coupled with global sovereign debt fears,” said Marc Ground at Standard New York Securities Inc., the Standard Bank Group.

In Houston, analysts with Raymond James & Associates Inc. said, “The market is taking a less optimistic stance on both the US and European fiscal crisis, and prompted by these concerns, investors fled out of equities and into the safety of gold as the Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 1% yesterday, while gold settled at a record high.”

They said, “Natural gas ended the day flat as warm weather forecasts continue to support prices.” The S&P index, crude, and natural gas all were up in early trading July 19.

July 18 closing prices “could’ve been worse, had the prospect of dwindling US inventories not lifted the market in late afternoon trade,” Ground said. “For the week ended July 15, we expect a sizable draw in US crude oil inventories, flat gasoline inventories, but a small build in distillate inventories.”

He said, “Total US refinery crude input is expected to have remained above 15 million b/d, while crude imports are expected to have stayed below 9 million b/d—which is likely to have driven another week of a sizable draw in crude inventories. Product inventories are expected to have built further on sluggish demand and high refining runs.”

Energy prices
The August contract for benchmark US sweet, light crudes dropped $1.31 to $95.93/bbl July 18 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The September contract fell $1.35 to $96.25/bbl. On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate at Cushing, Okla., was down 11¢ to $95.58/bbl.

Heating oil for August delivery lost 4.03¢ to $3.08/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated blend stock for oxygenate blending for the same month declined 3.19¢ to $3.10/gal.

The August natural gas contract was unchanged at $4.55/MMbtu on NYMEX. On the US spot market, gas at Henry Hub, La., continued climbing, up 7¢ to $4.58/MMbtu.

In London, the September IPE contract for North Sea Brent crude decreased $1.21 to $116.05/bbl. Gas oil for August dropped $9.75 to $967.50/tonne.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of 12 reference crudes rose 11¢ to $112.31/bbl.

Contact Sam Fletcher at samf@ogjonline.com.

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