Market watch: Energy futures mixed on NYMEX

Energy futures prices closed mixed in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange Tuesday. The market reacted to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries's production cut scheduled for Apr. 1 as well as the US Federal Reserve's interest rate cut.

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Mar. 21
�Energy futures prices closed mixed in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange Tuesday.

The expiring April contract for light, sweet crude, the American benchmark, slipped 19� to settle at $25.96/bbl. May, the new front-month contract, fell 34� to $26.12.

Refined petroleum products ended mixed, with April home heating oil gaining 0.67� to finish at 68.49�/gal, while unleaded gasoline for the same month declined by 0.26� to rest at 85.77�/gal.

NYMEX natural gas for April delivery advanced by 22.4� to end at $5.29/Mcf.

The market reacted to the 0.5% interest rate cut announcement by the US Federal Reserve, which was lower than traders wanted. The announcement immediately caused a sell-off in the securities market as well.

In after-hours electronic access trading in New York, light, sweet crude was fetching $26.08/bbl for the May position and $26.28 for the June contract.

Meanwhile, in London Tuesday, North Sea Brent crude oil futures closed lower on the International Petroleum Exchange.

Brokers said the market was not yet convinced by OPEC's assurances that its 1 million b/d production cut, effective Apr. 1, would be sufficient to halt the slide in prices, due to lower demand during the second quarter.

Follow-through technical selling did emerge on Tuesday because futures settled below $25/bbl. But overall, prices remained in a fairly narrow range. There was no substantial drop in prices as a result of the technical selling.

On Tuesday, IPE May Brent settled at $24.62/bbl, down 19� from the previous close. The day's high was $25.19 and the low $24.60.

Also on the IPE, the April natural gas contract settled at the equivalent of $3.32/Mcf, up 3�.

The OPEC basket of seven crudes stood at $22.68/bbl on Tuesday, compared with $22.64 the previous day.

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