MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil futures ended week above $100/bbl

US crude oil futures prices on the New York market continued to hover near $100/bbl on Feb. 14 as they had all week, and analysts said March heating oil prices and cash natural gas prices climbed on expectations of an East Coast snowstorm that would keep heating demand high.

The New York Mercantile Exchange trading floor was closed Feb. 17 for the Presidents' Day holiday.

As of Feb. 14, US light, sweet crude oil futures prices have climbed for 5 consecutive weeks.

"Over the coming weeks, however, we expect the upward momentum in West Texas Intermediate to slow down if it crosses the $101/bbl level again‑-partly from the weight of softening US Gulf Coast balances," Barclays analyst Miswin Mahesh said in a research note.

He noted gulf coast refinery maintenance will likely peak in early March, and refiners already have started to slow processing runs in anticipation of that. In addition, a larger-than-usual fleet of oil tankers is bound for US waters, and arrival of those oil supplies could dampen US oil futures prices.

Energy prices

The NYMEX March crude contract dropped 5¢ on Feb. 14, closing at $100.30/bbl. The April contract gained 8¢ to settle at $100.13/bbl.

Heating oil for March delivery was up 4.75¢ to a rounded $3.08/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for March delivery increased 2.81¢ to a rounded $2.81/gal.

The March natural gas contract on NYMEX dropped by less than a penny to a rounded $5.21/MMbtu. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub rebounded Feb. 14 following a price drop the previous trading session. On Feb. 14, the Henry Hub price increased to a rounded $5.53/MMbtu, up 19.9¢.

In London, the April ICE contract for Brent crude delivery was up 56¢, closing at $109.08/bbl, while the May contract was up 57¢ to $108.76/bbl. Analysts said Brent was supported by supply issues ranging from North Sea field maintenance to production issues in Angola and Libya. The ICE gas oil contract for March climbed $1.75 to $920.25/tonne.

The Organizational of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported its basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $105.58/bbl on Feb. 14, up 31¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com

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