Market watch: May 26

Energy futures prices rose during Thursday's trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), riding concerns about tight supplies of reformulated gasoline. Analysts say RFG shortage concerns have been aggravated by the outage of a number of refineries while the peak driving season of summer vacation lies ahead.

Energy futures prices rose during Thursday's trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), riding concerns about tight supplies of reformulated gasoline. Analysts say RFG shortage concerns have been aggravated by the outage of a number of refineries while the peak driving season of summer vacation lies ahead.

Surveys indicate that driving season this year might beat all previous records of gasoline consumption, despite higher prices of the product. The expiration of June options for gasoline and home heating oil added to the market's volatility.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the American benchmark crude, put on 58� to rest at $30.51/bbl for July delivery, while the August contract stood at $29.63, up by 45�.

Refined petroleum products also closed higher with June home heating oil, gaining .58� to rest at 79.09� per gallon, while unleaded gasoline for the same month added 3.19� to settle at 101.21�.

NYMEX natural gas for June delivery advanced by 16.3� to end at $4.24/Mcf.

In after-hours electronic access trading in New York today, WTI was fetching $30.63/bbl for the July position and $29.75 for the August contract, both up from the NYMEX close.

Meanwhile, in London Thursday, North Sea Brent crude oil futures broke through resistance at $29/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE), as the bullish NYMEX market led the whole energy complex upwards.

Brokers said sentiment on both the IPE and NYMEX was markedly more bullish than in the past couple of weeks, which accelerated the rise in prices.

On Thursday, IPE July Brent futures settled at $29.19/bbl, up by 58� from the previous close. The day's high was $29.20 and the low $28.37. On the IPE, the June natural gas contract soared the equivalent of 39�, closing at $3.79/Mcf.

Gasoil also moved higher, in line with Brent and NYMEX home heating oil. The June contract finished the day at $232/tonne, up by $3.25 from Wednesday's settlement. The day's

high was $233 and the low $229.50.

Little change was expected in either market today. The price of the OPEC basket of seven crudes stood at $28.78/bbl Thursday, compared with $28.30 the previous day.

The overnight trend of strength set by the IPE in London and NYMEX in New York pushed the price of North Sea Brent crude above $29/bbl on the Singapore Exchange today, the highest level seen in the past three months. The July Brent forward contract, which usually toes London and New York trends, settled at $29.19/bbl, up $5.04/bbl from the beginning of this month.

"We are obviously witnessing a good level of support from a tight product supply scenario, but prices are getting into a dangerously higher range," says one source at a Japanese trading house.

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