MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices rise modestly on slim inventory gain

Crude oil prices rose modestly on the New York market Feb. 26 following a weekly government report showing crude oil inventories grew although the gain was less than analysts had expected.

The US Energy Information Administration estimated a gain of 100,000 bbl for the week ended Feb. 21 compared with the previous week. The latest estimate was below the 800,000-bbl increase anticipated by analysts polled by the Wall Street Journal before the EIA report (OGJ Online, Feb. 26, 2013).

Separately, the American Petroleum Institute estimated an inventory gain of 822,000 bbl for the week ended Feb. 21.

“It was mildly bullish,” Andy Lebow, a senior vice-president of energy derivatives for Jefferies Inc., said of the latest inventory and its influence on oil prices. The lower-than-anticipated oil supply gain indicates crude demand might be stronger than expected.

Regarding underground natural gas storage as of Feb. 21, the EIA estimated 1.348 tcf, which was a net decline of 95 bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 905 bcf lower than last year at this time and 711 bcf below the 5-year average of 2,059 tcf, said an EIA report released on Feb. 27.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange April crude contract climbed 76¢ on Feb. 26 to close at $102.59/bbl. The May contract gained 65¢ to settle at $101.77/bbl.

Heating oil for March delivery gained 2.38¢ to settle at a rounded $3.13/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for March delivery was virtually unchanged to remain at a rounded $2.80/gal.

The March natural gas contract on NYMEX gave up 24.1¢ to a rounded $4.86/MMbtu. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub was $4.84/MMbtu, down 77.5¢.

In London, the April ICE contract for Brent crude delivery edged up 1¢, closing at $109.52/bbl. The May contract also rose 1¢ to $109.04/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for March gained $1.25 to $926.50/tonne.

The Organizational of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported its basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $106.49/bbl on Feb. 26, down 6¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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