MARKET WATCH: Week ended with crude up, gas down

US floor trading of energy commodities was closed Feb. 18 and President Barack Obama played a semi-secret golf game with Tiger Woods in Florida on the US Presidents’ Day holiday.

Obama went to Palm City, Fla., ahead of a climate rally by thousands of demonstrators Feb. 17 on the National Mall in Washington, DC. According to Frank Maisano, a Washington-based energy and political analyst, estimates of the turnout ranged from 10,000 to 50,000, including Tar Sands Blockade members who have tried to halt construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline and use of hydraulic fracturing.

In Florida, pool reporters covering the president were not informed of Obama’s match with Woods at a private course until too late to observe the game.

Nonetheless, analysts in the Houston office of Raymond James & Associates Inc. reported, “Crude ended the week higher (up 0.7%) in part due to a bullish inventory report, while natural gas retreated (down 3.6%) for the week on a bearish inventory report.”

They said, “The Standard & Poor’s 500 index extended its winning streak…ending last week up modestly despite weak economic readings from the Euro-zone.” The Euro-zone’s gross domestic product for the fourth quarter registered “the sharpest contraction since early 2009, shrinking 0.6%.” However, Raymond James analysts said, “US data points remained largely positive with a sharp fall in weekly unemployment claims and a better-than-expected consumer sentiment reading.” The Oil Service Index increased 1.3% through last week, while the SIG Oil Exploration & Production Index decreased 3.9%.

In other news, the National Association of Home Builders-Wells Fargo builder sentiment index report on Feb. 19 slipped to 46 from 47, its first monthly decline since April and down from a 6½-year high in January after 5 years of stagnation. The price of housing has been rising with fewer previously occupied houses now on the market.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes declined 5¢ to $114.18/bbl.

Contact Sam Fletcher at samf@ogjonline.com.

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