Market watch: Energy prices mixed in trading on OPEC uncertainty

Energy futures prices were mixed in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange Thursday. The January contract for light, sweet crude fell 24¢ to close at $18.12/bbl, while the February contract fell 21¢ to close at $18.53/bbl.

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Dec. 14 -- Energy futures prices were mixed in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange Thursday.

The January contract for light, sweet crude fell 24¢ to close at $18.12/bbl, while the February contract fell 21¢ to close at $18.53/bbl. Both rose in after-hours electronic access trading, to $18.35 and $18.68 respectively.

However, refined petroleum products closed higher, with January home heating oil putting on 0.46¢ to finish at 51.04¢/gal, while unleaded gasoline for the same month improved by 0.36¢ to settle at 52.08¢/gal.

The January contract for NYMEX natural gas rose 3.7¢ to close at $2.756/Mcf.

Meanwhile, in London Thursday, North Sea Brent crude oil futures slipped back beneath $18/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange, on follow-through and technical selling.

Brokers said the failure of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers to reach an agreement on a production cut, plus worsening demand for crude, meant that prices would have to weaken.

It was not yet clear at what level prices were expected to stabilize, but if demand proved as low as predicted, futures were likely to lose another dollar or more in the next few months, they warned.

On Thursday, IPE January Brent futures settled at $17.80/bbl, down 40¢ from the previous close. The day's high was $18.38 and the low was $17.73.

Also on the IPE, the January natural gas contract rose 8¢ to the equivalent of $3.96/Mcf.

The price of the OPEC basket of seven crudes stood at $16.77/bbl Thursday, compared with $16.74 the previous day.

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