Market watch: Energy futures prices continue to rise on Iraq concerns

Oil futures prices continued making gains Friday as the administration of President George W. Bush attempted to solidify its case for US military action against Iraq.

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Sept. 9 -- Oil futures prices continued making gains Friday as the administration of President George W. Bush attempted to solidify its case for US military action against Iraq. Meanwhile, other government officials and security specialists cited alternatives to going to war. "Chief among those alternatives has been the return of inspectors to Iraq," said Energy Security Analysis Inc. "The success of this alternative in forestalling war, however, depends on the character of those inspections and the US belief that they will be effective in cataloguing and dismantling Iraq's (weapons of mass destruction) capabilities, ESAI noted.

In New York Friday, energy futures prices were higher in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The October contract for light, sweet crudes gained 63¢ to finish at $29.61/bbl. The November contract, meanwhile, closed at $29.59, up 58¢

Refined petroleum products also closed higher, with October heating oil rising by 1.08¢ to close at 78.39¢/gal. Unleaded gasoline rose as well, reaching 78.63¢/gal, up 0.97¢

The October natural gas contract lost 7¢ Friday to reach $3.27/Mcf on NYMEX, "as the market somewhat discarded fears of tropical storm Fay in favor of apparent profit-taking," analysts at Enerfax Daily reported Monday. "The market opened up and rallied higher Friday morning to $3.43(/Mcf) on the hype surrounding the tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico, but fell off quickly in afternoon profit-taking," Enerfax said.

In London, meanwhile, North Sea Brent crude oil futures prices rallied Friday on the International Petroleum Exchange. October Brent futures settled at $28.29/bbl, up by 63¢ from the previous day's closing price. The November contract also rose, reaching $28.37/bbl, up by 61¢ on IPE. The October natural gas contract inched up on IPE by 0.02¢ to reach the equivalent of $2.64/Mcf.

The price of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of seven benchmark crudes continued to rise Friday, reaching $26.87/bbl, up 65¢.

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