MARKET WATCH: Oil prices climb on improving European economics

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, July 20 -- Crude oil futures rose on both New York and London markets on July 19, which analysts attributed to news that Europe appears to be resolving its debt crisis that has hindered economic growth and reduced expectations of rising oil demand.

Concerns about Europe’s debt crisis have kept benchmark US sweet, light crude oil prices at $92-100/bbl for more than 3 weeks. On July 19, US sweet, light crude ended the trading session at $97.50/bbl while Brent ended at $117.06/bbl. Both contracts were up by more than $1/bbl from the previous day.

“Overall however, oil remains range bound, with exogenous factors dictating short term direction,” Standard Bank analysts said. “Oil will likely continue to react to headlines and sound bites from European politicians.”

European officials were scheduled to meet July 20 to discuss another bailout for Greece.

In the US, oil prices also were supported by indications that US lawmakers appeared to be moving closer to negotiating a compromise on raising the US debt ceiling. On July 19, President Barack Obama said he supported a $3.7 trillion deficit reduction plan.

Energy prices
The August contract for benchmark US sweet, light crudes gained $1.57 to $97.50/bbl July 19 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The September contract rose $1.61 to $97.86/bbl. On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate at Cushing, Okla., jumped $1.92 to $97.50/bbl.

Heating oil for August delivery gained 2.03¢ to $3.098/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated blend stock for oxygenate blending for the same month climbed 1.759¢ to $3.115/gal.

The August natural gas contract was essentially unchanged at $4.55/MMbtu on NYMEX. On the US spot market, gas at Henry Hub, La., edged up by less than 1¢ to $4.585/MMbtu.

In London, the September IPE contract for North Sea Brent crude gained $1.01 to $117.06/bbl. Gas oil for August climbed $8.50 to $976/tonne.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of 12 reference crudes rose 37¢ to $112.68/bbl.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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