MARKET WATCH: Oil prices up on continued possible western military action in Syria

Oil prices remained elevated again Aug. 29, and continued their upward climb on developing news that western military action in Syria remained a strong possibility.

“The lead-up to possible western military intervention in Syria could propel prices above already elevated levels as markets factor in the end-game and regional repercussions,” Barclays Capital analysts observed.

Elsewhere, a new energy brief from the US Energy Information Administration looked at how retail gasoline prices at the end of this summer’s driving season were lower than during the same period in the last 2 years.

“As the Labor Day weekend approaches, the US national average retail price for regular gasoline has fallen 13¢/gal below the apparent summer peak of $3.68/gal, reached on July 22,” EIA reported. On Aug. 26 the average retail price for gasoline was $3.55/gal, “despite an increase in crude oil prices since early July,” EIA said.

The agency added, “At $3.55/gal, the average US retail price for regular gasoline is 19¢ below last year’s price at that time and 3¢ below the level in 2011 leading into the holiday weekend.”

Energy prices

The October contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes on the New York Mercantile Exchange decreased $1.30, closing at $108.80/bbl on Aug. 29. The November crude contract fell $1.22 to $108.15/bbl.

Heating oil for October delivery declined 2.3¢ to settle at $3.19/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for September fell 2.8¢ to $3.07/gal.

The October natural gas contract was up by 3.6¢ to close at $3.618/MMbtu on NYMEX. On the US spot market, gas prices at Henry Hub, La., remained at $3.56/MMbtu.

In London, the October IPE contract for North Sea Brent crude dropped $1.45 to $115.16/bbl. The September contract for gas oil settled at $978.75/tonne, up $8.75 from the previous session.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported its basket of 12 benchmark crudes was up 55¢ closing at $112.80/bbl on Aug. 29.

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