Market watch, Aug. 17

Energy futures Wednesday regained some of their previous losses on the New York Mercantile Exchange as traders decided last week's increases in US petroleum inventories were too small to have much effect.


Energy futures Wednesday regained some of their previous losses on the New York Mercantile Exchange as traders decided last week's increases in US petroleum inventories were too small to have much effect.

The September contract for unleaded gasoline jumped 1.12� to 93.03�/gal, more than wiping out its loss of 0.11� on Tuesday. The natural gas contract for the same month also shot up 17.9� to $4.41/Mcf, after losing 8.4�.

But most other petroleum categories had only partial rebounds. Home heating oil gained 0.37� to 86.88�/gal Wednesday.

The September contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes edged up 13� to $31.80/bbl on the NYMEX, while the October contract got back 2� to $30.98/bbl. Both continued to increase in after-hours electronic trading to $31.90/bbl and $31.08/bbl, respectively.

In London, oil futures remained above the $32/bbl level, despite warnings by an unnamed source in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries that the cartel is poised to increase production if commodities remain at present levels.

Analysts said prices are unlikely to retreat until OPEC decides to increase production.

The expiring September contract for North Sea Brent crude settled at $32.52/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange, up 35� from the previous close after trading as high as $32.60/bbl Wednesday. The October contract gained 23� to $29.74/bbl.

Also on the IPE, the September natural gas contract closed at the equivalent of $2.46/Mcf, up 7�.

On the Singapore exchange, the Brent crude contract for October reached $29.74/bbl, while the November position was at $29.09.

The average price for OPEC's basket of seven crudes lost 1� to $28.68/bbl.

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