Market watch: Mixed energy prices Friday show no clear market momentum

Energy futures prices were mixed Friday, following a week of seesaw movements with no major momentum either up or down.

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Aug.12 -- Energy futures prices were mixed Friday, following a week of seesaw movements with no major momentum either up or down.

Even a decision by the International Energy Agency to cut its previous forecast for 2002 global demand growth for oil by 50,0000 b/d to 200,000 b/d because of the sluggish economy failed to trigger heavy selling. Analysts said traders would be watching reports this week of US inventories of oil and petroleum products for market indicators.

The September contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes gained 19¢ to $26.86/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while the October contract increased by 15¢ to $26.37/bbl as traders covered short positions ahead of the weekend.

However, heating oil for September delivery dipped by 0.06¢ to 67.18¢ /gal on NYMEX, and unleaded gasoline for the same month slipped 0.04¢ to 75.5¢ /gal.

The September natural gas contract inched up 1.6¢ to $2.76/bbl Friday, after the US Energy Information Administration reported a significant decline of natural gas injections into US underground storage during the week ended Aug. 2.

EIA officials reported gas injections fell to 33 bcf from a downward-revised total of 48 bcf during the previous week and 75 bcf during the same period a year ago. The latest injection figure was significantly below Wall Street's expectations, resulting in total storage of 2.6 tcf and reducing the surplus to 272 bcf year-over-year and 336 bcf compared with the 5-year average.

Meanwhile, as a result of strengthening El Niño conditions over the last 2 months, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Friday reduced its 2002 storm forecast for the US Gulf of Mexico, a major source of US oil and natural gas production.

NOAA officials now expect 7-10 tropical storms to be generated in the gulf this season, down from 9-13 previously. Its forecast for hurricanes dropped to 4-6 from 6-8 previously, with 1-3 likely to make landfall along the Gulf Coast, instead of 2-3.

In London, the September contract for North Sea Brent oil gained 23¢ to $25.34/bbl Friday on the International Petroleum Exchange. The September natural gas contract also gained 2.3¢ to the equivalent of $1.89/Mcf on the IPE.

The basket price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of seven crudes gained 14¢ to $24.87/bbl Friday.

For all of last week, however, the OPEC basket price averaged $24.80/bbl, down from a revised average price of $24.96/bbl during the final week of July.

So far this year, OPEC's basket price has averaged $22.71/bbl. That compares with an average $23.12/bbl for all of 2001.

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