MARKET WATCHCrude oil, refined products prices slip

The near-month crude futures price settled just above $60/bbl in New York on Mar. 9, following refined product futures downward. Gasoline futures dropped more than 2¢ and heating oil dropped nearly 5¢ during the trading day.

Paula Dittrick
Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, Mar. 12 -- The near-month crude futures price settled just above $60/bbl in New York on Mar. 9, following refined product futures downward. Gasoline futures dropped more than 2¢ and heating oil dropped nearly 5¢ during the trading day.

Oil and gasoline prices had been boosted earlier in the week on concerns about declining US gasoline inventories and delays in refinery maintenance schedules (OGJ Online, Mar. 9, 2007). Traders expect crude and refined products to rebound soon.

Jacques Rousseau, senior energy analyst at Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group Inc., Arlington, Va., expects the refining industry to experience a positive momentum through at least Mar. 31, maybe longer depending on gasoline inventories.

"The net result of the lower supply and higher demand is that inventories of refined products have fallen 6% over the past 8 weeks, raising the uncertainty level about the adequacy of supply and the doubling of refining margins," Rousseau said in a Mar. 12 research note.

Crude oil traders worldwide also are looking ahead to the Mar. 15 meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Energy prices
The April crude futures contact for benchmark US sweet, light crudes dropped $1.59 to close at $60.05/bbl. The May contract dipped $1.45 to settle at $61.77/bbl. On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate at Cushing, Okla., was down by 1.59¢ to $60.05/bbl.

The April contract for reformulated blend stock for oxygenate blending (RBOB) slid 2.4¢ to $1.9021/gal on NYMEX. Heating oil for the same month fell 4.91¢ to $1.7122/gal.

The April natural gas contract lost 15.6¢ to $7.083/MMbtu. On the US spot market, natural gas at Henry Hub, La., slipped by 11¢ to $7.03/MMbtu.

In London, the April IPE contract for North Sea Brent crude lost $1.20 to $61.13/bbl. Gas oil for March decreased by $5.25 to $536.25/tonne.

The average price for OPEC's basket of 11 benchmark crudes declined by 44¢ to $58.20/bbl on Mar. 9.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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