Market watch, June 23

Oil futures prices continued to climb Thursday, with international markets undaunted by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' decision to hike production by 708,000 b/d in July.


Oil futures prices continued to climb Thursday, with international markets undaunted by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' decision to hike production by 708,000 b/d in July.

Some analysts were surprised by the unchecked upward trend, blaming trend-follower activity and technical trading for pushing prices up. But most traders realize that OPEC's increased quota primarily legalizes current overproduction by some of its members and will add little new production.

Meanwhile, traders are keenly watching an unresolved labor dispute in Norway�little reported by other US media�that threatens to shut in some 3.2 million b/d of offshore production today (OGJ Online, June 20, 2000).

The benchmark blend of light, sweet US crude oil for August delivery climbed 82� to $32.19/bbl Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The September contract also gained 77� to $30.67/bbl.

In London, the August contract for North Sea Brent oil also rose 82� to $30.15/bbl Thursday on the International Petroleum Exchange. But it was down by 12� to $30.03/bbl early Friday.

Still, London brokers reported the market remained fundamentally and technically buoyant. While prices may not continue above $30/bbl, they said, values are unlikely to fall significantly.

Meanwhile, the August contract for North Sea Brent was up 82� to $30.15/bbl in overnight trading on the Singapore market.

The average price for OPEC's basket of seven crudes Thursday increased 71� to $29.85/bbl.

The unexpected shutdown of a Pennsylvania refinery triggered a rebound in NYMEX trading, with the July contract for unleaded gasoline jumping 4.22� to $1.0813/gal. Heating oil also increased 2.84� to 81.42�/gal.

The July contract for natural gas rose another 17.3� to $4.22/Mcf on the NYMEX. On the IPE, the July gas contract was up 13� to the equivalent of $2.67/Mcf.

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