Market watch: Energy prices drop for second consecutive day

Energy futures dropped for a second consecutive day Friday across the New York Mercantile Exchange and international markets upon uncertainty about the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' pending decision on oil production quotas.


By the OGJ Staff


HOUSTON, Mar. 12
�Energy futures dropped for a second consecutive day Friday across the New York Mercantile Exchange and international markets upon uncertainty about the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' pending decision on oil production quotas.

Traders expect a reduction but they are speculating on its size. Market estimates for the anticipated cut range up to 1 million b/d from OPEC's current 25.2 million b/d quota.

Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and non-OPEC Mexico plan to meet before the OPEC meeting in Vienna on Mar. 16. Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Mexico have collaborated on prices since early 1998 when oil prices dropped to $10/bbl lows

Benchmark US light, sweet crude for April delivery declined by 38� to $28.01/bbl Friday on the NYMEX as the May contract settled at $28.28/bbl, down by 34�.

In after-hours electronic trading, the futures prices continued slipping with the April contract at $27.90/bbl and the May contract at $28.13/bbl.

Refined products also closed lower. The April home heating oil lost 39� to settle at 72.91�/gal. Unleaded gasoline for April declined by 1.57� to settle at 88.79�/gal.

The April natural gas contract dropped 21.3�, closing at $5.07/MMbtu. On the International Petroleum Exchange in London Friday, the April gas contract settled unchanged at the equivalent of $3.28/Mcf.

North Sea Brent crude futures closed at $26.33/bbl, down by 35� from the previous close. The May contract lost 40� to end the session at $26.53/bbl.

The average price for the OPEC basket of seven crudes dropped more than 50� to about $24.58/bbl compared with $24.07/bbl in the last week of February. The price of the basket up to Mar. 8 had averaged $24.65/bbl, OPEC statistics showed.

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