Market watch, July 31

A refinery closure continued to buoy futures prices Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, where the August contract for unleaded gasoline jumped 3.77� to 95.03�/gal.


Rumors of a refinery closure continued to buoy futures prices Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, where the August contract for unleaded gasoline jumped 3.77� to 95.03�/gal.

Gasoline remained a market leader, boosting other contracts, as traders fanned fears of a shut-down of Tosco Corp.'s Bayway Refinery in Linden, NJ. Market watchers had reported Tosco was buying gasoline in the cash market to meet commitments to customers.

However, a company spokesman today denied any shutdown of the refinery's operations, despite "a blower problem" at a catalytic cracker early last week. Because that refinery is the nearest to NYMEX, any incident at that facility often will trigger speculation among traders than can move the market up or down, he told OGJ Online.

The September contract for NYMEX crude oil gained 16� Friday to $28.18/bbl. The October oil contract also advanced 11� to $27.91/bbl.

The August contract for home heating oil was up 0.21� to 76.77�/gal on the NYMEX, while the September contract for natural gas inched up 0.2� to $3.85/Mcf.

Some analysts said the market seemed to be recovering somewhat from its earlier knee-jerk reaction to proposals of increased oil production from one or more members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

On the International Petroleum Exchange in London, the September contract for North Sea Brent crude gained 21� to close at $27.36/bbl on Friday. Analysts said that market seemed to be consolidating at just over $27/bbl, but its direction remained uncertain.

The August gas contract was down 11� to the equivalent of $2.51/Mcf Friday on the IPE.

On the Singapore exchange, Brent crude for September delivery added 21� to settle at $27.36/bbl. October Brent was up by 18� to $27.27.

The average price for OPEC's basket of seven crudes lost 11� to finish the week at $25.52/bbl. OPEC's basket price averaged $25.60/bbl last week, down from $27.85/bbl the previous week.

So far this year, the OPEC basket has averaged $26.47/bbl, up sharply from an average $17.47/bbl through 1999 and $12.28/bbl for all of 1998.

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