Market watch: Energy futures trading volumes thin, prices mixed

Energy futures trading volumes were thin on the New York Mercantile Exchange Tuesday in advance of the US Independence Day holiday with crude oil and gasoline prices slipping slightly.

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, July 3 -- Energy futures trading volumes were thin on the New York Mercantile Exchange Tuesday in advance of the US Independence Day holiday with crude oil and gasoline prices slipping slightly, while heating oil price rose modestly.

NYMEX will be closed Thursday and Friday. Meanwhile, weekly inventory data released by the American Petroleum Institute late Tuesday offered a mixed picture that is unlikely to provide any direction to oil prices, said Matthew Warburton, an analyst with UBS Warburg LLC.

"While total US inventories remain comfortable at 739.9 million bbl (declining by only 300,000 bbl week-to-week), the data also evidenced that petroleum demand continues to improve," Warburton said, noting that the 4-week average demand for refined products rose to 15.5 million b/d, a level not sustained since last summer.

US gasoline demand is robust going into the extended holiday weekend, he said. Meanwhile, API reported that US gasoline inventories decreased 1.3 million bbl to 216.4 million bbl.

"Unplanned secondary unit outages continued to curb gasoline yields and production slightly. However with gasoline/blendstock imports near record levels of 1.1 million b/d, the US market appears well supplied near-term," Warburton said.

The US Department of Energy will release its weekly inventory data after markets close Wednesday.

The August contract for benchmark US sweet, light crudes dropped 4¢ to $26.77/bbl on NYMEX Tuesday. The September contracted slipped by 5¢ to $26.69/bbl. Prices rose during after-hours electronic trading as the August contract increased to $26.85/bbl and the September position edged up slightly to $26.70/bbl.

Unleaded gasoline for August delivery declined 0.21¢ to 78.98¢/gal during the regular NYMEX session Tuesday. Heating oil for the same month rose 0.69¢ to 68.71¢/gal.

The August natural gas contract lost 4.7¢ to $3.15/Mcf on NYMEX.

In London, the August contract for North Sea Brent oil gained 11¢ to $25.75/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange. The August natural gas contract slipped by 2.7¢ to the equivalent of $2.18/Mcf on IPE.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of seven benchmark crudes rose 14¢ to $24.96/bbl Tuesday.

More in General Interest