MARKET WATCH: Crude oil prices down as US government shutdown lingers

The front month crude oil contract on the New York market dropped to the lowest level on Oct. 15 since it last settled below $100/bbl on July 2.

Analysts said market uncertainty was heightened because the US government shutdown has closed the US Energy Information Administration, preventing the release of EIA’s weekly petroleum inventory report. Without that information, people tend to pull back from trading.

Market participants awaited release of the American Petroleum Institute weekly inventory report during the afternoon of Oct. 16, although the API report normally is not as closely watched as the EIA report.

Another factor dampening trading activity was the Oct. 17 deadline to lift the US borrowing limit. Fitch Ratings said Oct. 15 that it might downgrade the US credit rating by the end of the first quarter 2014.

During the Oct. 15 trading session, the New York Mercantile Exchange November crude contract declined by $1.20, settling at $101.21/bbl. The December contract dropped by $1.07 to $101.41/bbl.

Heating oil for November delivery was down by 1.47¢ to a rounded $3.02/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for November edged down by 0.7¢ to a rounded $2.66/gal.

The November natural gas contract dropped 3¢ to $3.79/MMbtu on NYMEX. The December gas contract settled at a rounded $3.94/MMbtu, giving up 3.1¢. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub, La., rose to $3.815/MMbtu, up 1.5¢.

On the London market, the November ICE Brent crude oil settled $1.08 lower, closing at $109.96/bbl and down for a third consecutive session on Oct. 15. The November Brent on London's ICE futures exchange expires Oct. 16.

The December contract for Brent fell 82¢ to $109.42/bbl. The November contract for ICE gas oil climbed $8.75 to $940.25/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $107.64/bbl on Oct. 15, down 36¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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