Market watch, Jan. 24

Energy futures prices further weakened in trading Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The March contract for light, sweet crude declined by 23� to settle at $29.57/bbl, while the April contract stood at $28.79, down by 11�.


Energy futures prices further weakened in trading Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The March contract for light, sweet crude declined by 23� to settle at $29.57/bbl, while the April contract stood at $28.79, down by 11�.

In after-hours electronic access trading in New York, light, sweet crude was fetching $29.51/bbl for the March position and $28.75 for the April contract, both down from the NYMEX close.

Refined petroleum products also closed lower on the NYMEX, with February home heating oil losing 1.68� to rest at 86.22�/gal, while unleaded gasoline for the same month slipped by 0.04� to finish at 87.60�.

NYMEX natural gas for February delivery slumped by 51.1� to end at $6.95/Mcf.

Analysts stated that forecasts of above-normal temperatures on the US East Coast were a major factor in the market's decline, and the resumption of full exports of Iraqi crude added to the bearish sentiment.

Technical factors also led to selling by short-term traders.

The American Petroleum Institute released an unexpectedly bullish weekly inventory report after the end of the session.

It said the nation's crude stocks declined by 1.99 million bbl during the previous week, as gasoline stocks climbed by 2.21 million bbl.

Distillate inventories, which include the all-important home heating oil, declined by 826,000 bbl during the same period.

In London, North Sea Brent crude oil futures were firmer Tuesday at the close of trading on the International Petroleum Exchange and remained just above $26.50/bbl.

Brokers said the market's expectation was that there would be few, if any, surprises in the latest US oil stocks' data from the API and, in the meantime, cold weather and buoyant demand were supporting prices.

IPE March Brent futures settled at $26.67/bbl, up by 14� from the previous close. The day's high was $26.72 and the low $26.20.

On the IPE, the February natural gas contract closed at the equivalent of $4.10/Mcf, up 12�.

On the Singapore Exchange, the March contract for Brent crude settled at $26.67/bbl, up 14�, while the April position ended at $25.90, up 23�.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries stood at $25.33/bbl Tuesday, compared with $26.09/bbl the previous day.

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