Market watch, Dec. 22

International energy futures markets firmed Thursday as markets tried to stabilize following the dramatic plunge in prices earlier this week. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, the February contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes was up 21� to $25.98/bbl.


International energy futures markets firmed Thursday as markets tried to stabilize following the dramatic plunge in prices earlier this week.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, the February contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes was up 21� to $25.98/bbl, while the March contract gained 15� to $25.64/bbl. Both contracts continued to move up in after-hours electronic trading to $26.20/bbl and $25.80/bbl, respectively.

Home heating oil for January delivery inched up 0.53� to 86.19�/gal. The January contract for unleaded gasoline improved by 1.48� to 74.12�/gal. Natural gas for the same month climbed 50.4� to $9.83/Mcf.

In London, the February contract for North Sea Brent crude rose 64� to $23.61/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange.

That gain was a necessary technical correction, said brokers. However, they said market sentiment has altered with the common perception now that there are plentiful supplies of both crude and refined products.

In fact, sources said some players are now talking about asking members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut production at the next ministers meeting scheduled Jan. 17. Only a couple of months ago, the market was pleading with OPEC to hike production to prevent a large spike in petroleum prices during the winter.

On the IPE, the January natural gas contract gained 4� to the equivalent of $4.16/Mcf.

On the Singapore Exchange, the February contract for Brent crude rose 64� to $23.61/bbl, and the March contract rose 68� to $23.60/bbl.

The average price for OPEC�s basket of seven crudes dropped 62� to $21.64/bbl Thursday.

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