Market watch, Oct. 18

Energy futures prices were mixed on international markets Tuesday with milder weather in the US but continued worries about Middle East tensions. The November contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes inched up 7� to close at $32.99 bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while the December contract gained 3� to $32.42/bbl.


Energy futures prices were mixed on international markets Tuesday with milder weather in the US but continued worries about Middle East tensions.

The November contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes inched up 7� to close at $32.99 bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while the December contract gained 3� to $32.42/bbl.

But in after-hours electronic trading, both contracts jumped to $33.60/bbl and $33.07/bbl, respectively, following a report of still declining US inventories of oil and refined products by the American Petroleum Institute.

The API report, issued after the NYMEX closed, revealed US crude inventories declined by 3.11 million bbl last week, while gasoline inventories were down by 3.68 million bbl. Distillate stocks, including home heating oil, fell by 540,000 bbl in the same period. Traders had expected supplies to remain tight, with perhaps a small increase in heating oil from the previous week, sources said.

The November contract for home heating oil closed at 96.02�/gal Tuesday, down 1.21� for the day on the NYMEX. Unleaded gasoline for the same month lost 0.85� to 92.08�/gal, but the November contract for natural gas gained 7.5� to $5.44/Mcf.

In London, the December contract for North Sea Brent crude gained 25� to $31.13/bbl, apparently finding a temporary floor after a sharp drop Monday with expiration of the November contract on the International Petroleum Exchange.

The November contract for IPE gas closed at the equivalent of $3.94/Mcf.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of seven crudes stood at $30.08/bbl Tuesday, compared with $30.83 the previous day.

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