Market watch, Nov. 27

Futures prices for North Sea Brent crude dipped Friday on the International Petroleum Exchange, ending what analysts described as a week of quiet and mostly range-bound trading. The oil market appears technically and fundamentally firm above $33/bbl, with forecasts of severe weather in US markets buoying oil prices, analysts said.


Futures prices for North Sea Brent crude dipped Friday on the International Petroleum Exchange, ending what analysts described as a week of quiet and mostly range-bound trading.

The January contract for Brent oil closed the week at $33.12/bbl, down 16� from Thursday's finish. The December contract for natural gas also declined 10� to the equivalent of $4.21/Mcf.

The London oil market appears technically and fundamentally firm at price levels above $33/bbl, brokers said. Forecasts of severe winter weather in major US heating oil markets will likely buoy oil prices for some time, they reported.

The New York Mercantile Exchange was closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. But oil futures prices slipped in after-hours trading Monday to $35.05/bbl for the January contract and $34.21/bbl for the February position, both down from Wednesday's closings.

Energy markets recently registered only minor movements in prices, primarily because of a general lack of any surprises affecting oil and gas. Most financial news headlines and industry data have mirrored industry expectations, analysts said.

Some participants are looking to the next tally of US inventories of crude and petroleum products to reinvigorate the market. That report will be released by the American Petroleum Institute after the NYMEX closes trade Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of seven crudes was down 11� to $31.52/bbl Friday.

For the week, OPEC's basket price averaged $31.63/bbl, down 16� from the previous week. So far this year, that basket price has averaged $27.82/bbl, up sharply from averages of $17.47/bbl in 1999 and $12.28 of 1998.

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