MARKET WATCH: Front-month gas futures contract rallies

The front-month natural gas contract rallied May 17 in New York, reclaiming most of its loss from the previous session, after the Department of Energy authorized Freeport LNG Development LP to export 1.4 bcfd of LNG to countries that do not have free trade agreements with the US (OGJ Online, May 17, 2013).

That includes the European Union, Japan, and India, said analysts in the Houston office of Raymond James & Associates Inc.

Oil prices continued climbing, and the equity market maintained its advance with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index up 4% month-to-date. “For some perspective on how far the market has come, the S&P is now almost 150% above its lows of March 2009,” Raymond James analysts said. “Even the weak economic data points out of Europe and China did not seem to faze equity investors, though West Texas Intermediate crude ended the week relatively flat.” Last week, the SIG Oil Exploration & Production Index and the Oil Service Index posted gains of 2% each.

“For the week ahead, with earnings season over and not much economic data to be released, central bank policy should come back in the spotlight with [Federal Reserve Chairman] Ben Bernanke's testimony to Congress and minutes from the last Federal Open Market Committee [the Fed’s policy arm] meeting both on deck” for May 22.

Energy prices

The June contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes rose 86¢ for the second consecutive session to close at $96.02/bbl May 17 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The July contract gained 84¢ to $96.29/bbl. On the US spot market, WTI at Cushing, Okla., was up 86¢ to $96.02/bbl.

Heating oil for July delivery increased 2.83¢ to $2.94/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated stock for oxygenate blending for the same month advanced 2.47¢ to $2.91/gal.

The June natural gas contract recovered 12.3¢ to $4.06/MMbtu on NYMEX. On the US spot market, however, gas at Henry Hub, La., lost 12¢ to $3.89/MMbtu.

In London, the new front-month July IPE contract for North Sea Brent also increased 86¢, to $104.64/gal. Gas oil for June was up $4.25 to $876/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ Vienna office closed May 20 with no price update for its basket of 12 benchmark crudes.

Contact Sam Fletcher at samf@ogjonline.com.

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