Market watch, Dec. 15

Energy futures prices continued to tumble Thursday as traders took profits from recent run-ups and the falling market triggered automatic sell orders. The January contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes dropped 75� to 27.90/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while the February contract lost 95� to $27.17/bbl.


Energy futures prices continued to tumble Thursday as traders took profits from recent run-ups and the falling market triggered automatic sale orders, analysts said.

Realization that the crude crunch of the last few months might be over has put the market in a generally bearish mood, participants reported. The sell-off also was spurred by news that Iraq had resumed shipments of its export oil.

The January contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes dropped 75� to 27.90/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while the February contract lost 95� to $27.17/bbl.

Home heating oil for January fell 2.08� to 88.89�/gal on the NYMEX, while the January contract for unleaded gasoline was down 1.14� to 74.47�/gal. Natural gas for the same month declined 12.4� to $7.41/Mcf.

In London, the January contract for North Sea Brent crude was up 22� to $25.36/bbl, but still trading well below the $26/bbl level on the International Petroleum Exchange, officials said.

That market was moving slowly upward, filling in previously untraded gaps left when Brent values slid close to the $25/bbl mark earlier this week. But the overall tone remains bearish, brokers said.

The January contract for natural gas dropped 16� to the equivalent of $4.38/Mcf on the IPE.

On the Singapore exchange, the February contract for North Sea Brent crude fell 40� to close at $25.53/bbl.

The average price for the Organization of Exporting Countries' basket of seven crudes fell by $1.27 to $23.51/bbl on Thursday.

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