MARKET WATCH: Oil prices fall on uncertain timing for US stimulus cuts

Crude oil futures fell in trading Aug. 21 on the New York market after the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting failed to provide the clarity that traders and analysts had sought regarding the end of the $85 billion/month bond-buying program.

The minutes showed Fed officials divided about the timing of the first reduction in bond purchases.

Analysts say tapering of the economic stimulus and its subsequent effect on the value of the US dollar will trigger reduced global oil demand. The concern is that dollar-based crude prices will rise in emerging-market currencies, slowing economic growth in India and elsewhere.

On Aug. 21, the dollar rose once more against a range of emerging-markets currencies. During late Asian trading, the dollar pushed as high as 65.55 against India’s rupee.

Energy prices

The October contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes on the New York Mercantile Exchange dipped $1.26 to $103.85/bbl Aug. 21. The November contract dropped $1.20 to $103.37/bbl.

Heating oil for October delivery declined by 0.37¢ for a settle price of $3.08/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated stock for oxygenate blending for the same month rose 1.05¢ to settle at $2.937/gal.

The September natural gas contract increased 1.6¢ to close at $3.46/MMbtu on NYMEX. On the US spot market, gas at Henry Hub, La., also gained 1.6¢ to close at a rounded $3.51/MMbtu.

In London, the October IPE contract for North Sea Brent rose 34¢ to $109.81/bbl. The September contract for gas oil settled at $938.75/tonne, unchanged from the previous session.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported its basket of 12 benchmark crudes closed at $106.95/bbl on Aug. 21, down 11¢.

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