MARKET WATCH: Crude oil futures fall on mixed geopolitical signals

Crude oil prices settled lower on the New York and London markets July 14 after weekend reports that Iraq’s parliament was unable to agree on a new speaker, which could delay attempts to remedy insurgency in Iraq.

Analysts reported oil traders received mixed market signals from various oil-producing countries. US Sec. of State John Kerry was in Vienna where he reported “significant gaps” as negotiators worked to finish a final nuclear deal by a July 20 deadline.

Meanwhile in Libya, it was reported that the Brega port in eastern Libya has been shut by protesters.

“Oil prices have returned to early June levels, but the market remains on a knife edge,” Barclays Capital Inc. analyst Miswin Mahesh of London said in a July 11 energy market outlook.

Mahesh believes the risk of an Iraqi supply disruption lingers while even a partial, sustainable return to Libyan production remains unlikely. He also said that “geopolitical tension across Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Kuwait” raise the market risk premium that could widen the Brent-West Texas Intermediate spread. Brent was slightly more than $6/bbl above US light, sweet crude with the July 14 closing prices.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange August crude oil contract dropped 8¢ on July 14, closing at $100.91/bbl. The September contract dropped 18¢ to $100.48/bbl.

The natural gas contract for August gained less than a penny to remain at a rounded $4.15/MMbtu. On the US cash market, gas at Henry Hub, La., was $4.10/MMbtu, up 1¢.

Heating oil for August delivery gained 1.2¢ to a rounded $2.87/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for August delivery added 1.66¢ to a rounded $2.93/gal.

The August ICE contract for Brent crude delivery climbed modestly, adding 32¢ to $106.98/bbl. The September contract gained 45¢ to $107.71/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for August declined $1 to $883.25/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes for July 14 was $104.14/bbl, down 73¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at

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