By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Feb. 7 -- Energy markets were mixed Feb. 4 with crude prices up slightly and natural gas still in decline.
The March contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes rebounded by 3¢ to $46.08/bbl Feb. 4 on the New York Mercantile Exchange after plummeting by 24¢ in the previous session. Gasoline for March delivery dipped by 0.79¢ to $1.26/gal Feb. 4 on NYMEX, and heating oil for the same month slipped by 0.23¢ to $1.27/gal.
However, natural gas continued to decline in reaction to a report last week of a lower-than-expected withdrawal from US underground storage. The March natural gas contract lost 5.3¢ to $6.10/MMbtu on NYMEX, "pressured by deteriorating technicals" and a soft weekend spot market price in the face of forecasts of fairly mild weather this week, said analysts at Enerfax Daily.
In London, the March contact for North Sea Brent crude gained 4¢ to $43.89/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange.
The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of seven benchmark crudes increased by 54¢ to $40.73/bbl Feb. 4 on the International Petroleum Exchange. For last week as a whole, however, the OPEC basket price averaged $40.97/bbl, down by $1.72 from the previous week.
So far this year, OPEC's basket price has averaged $40.38/bbl, up from an average $36.05/bbl for all of 2004.