Market watch: Energy futures prices fall, wiping out previous gains

Other than natural gas, energy futures prices fell Monday, wiping out Friday's gains on the New York Mercantile Exchange from the first seasonal snowfall in the key Northeast US market area.

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Dec. 11 -- Other than natural gas, energy futures prices fell Monday, wiping out Friday's gains on the New York Mercantile Exchange from the first seasonal snowfall in the key Northeast US market area.

The January contract for benchmark US sweet, light crudes plunged 67¢ to $18.37/bbl on the NYMEX, while the February contract fell 66¢ to $18.79/bbl. However, both contracts evidenced small rebounds in after-hours electronic trading, up to $18.45/bbl and $18.83/bbl respectively.

Home heating oil for January delivery retreated by 1.02¢ -- the exact amount of Friday's gain -- to 50.66¢/gal. Unleaded gasoline for the same period dropped 1.41¢ to 51.09¢/gal.

However, the January natural gas contract jumped 17.9¢ to $2.75/Mcf Monday on the NYMEX, following a miniscule increase Friday.

In London, the January position for North Sea Brent oil settled at $18.17/bbl Monday, down 86¢ for the day after trading in a range of $18.10-$18.70/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange. Brokers reported growing skepticism that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers can cooperate to reduce oil exports a total 2 million b/d in January.

By early Tuesday, Brent crude was dropped to $17.91/bbl in London as traders readjusted positions based on US statistics that show milder winter weather is reducing demand for home heating oil and that US oil stocks are at a 2-year high (OGJ Online, Dec. 11, 2001).

Meanwhile, the January natural gas contract continued inching up, gaining another 1.6¢ to the equivalent of $3.84/Mcf on the IPE.

The average price for OPEC's benchmark basket of seven crudes lost 15¢ to $16.95/bbl Monday.

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