MARKET WATCH: Crude, gas prices climb higher

Crude prices continued climbing July 18 with the front-month contract up 1.5% in the New York futures market following a sharp drop in US inventory. Natural gas bounced back 5% as heat waves in the US Northeast and Midwest reduced supply storage.

It was a good day in the equity market with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index reaching new highs and the NASDAQ climbing to its highest level “since the heady days of mid-2000,” said analysts in the Houston office of Raymond James & Associates Inc. “The rally was fueled by bank earnings and [Federal Reserve System Chairman Ben] Bernanke’s soothing comments on Fed stimulus.”

US inventories

The Energy Information Administration reported the injection of 58 bcf of natural gas into US underground storage in the week ended July 12, less than Wall Street’s consensus for an input of 65 bcf. That raised working gas in storage to 2.745 tcf, down 414 bcf from the comparable period in 2012 and 34 bcf below the 5-year average.

“Excluding weather-related demand, there was 3.1 bcfd of additional natural gas added to storage compared with last year, and we have averaged 4.08 bcfd looser over the past 4 weeks,” Raymond James analysts reported.

Energy prices

The August contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes escalated $1.56 to $108.04/bbl July 18 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The September contract rose $1.46 to $107.81/bbl. On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate at Cushing, Okla., stayed in step with the front-month futures contract, up $1.56 to $108.04/bbl.

Heating oil for August delivery increased 2.95¢ to $3.10/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated stock for oxygenate blending for the same month dipped 0.03¢ but closed essentially unchanged at a rounded $3.11/gal.

The August natural gas contract bounced back by 18.3¢ to $3.81/MMbtu on NYMEX. On the US spot market, gas at Henry Hub, La., recovered 5¢ to $3.72/MMbtu.

In London, the September IPE contract for North Sea Brent increased 9¢ to $108.70/bbl. Gas oil for August gained $5 to $928.75/tonne.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes climbed 83¢ to $106.11/bbl.

Contact Sam Fletcher at samf@ogjonline.com.

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