By the OGJ Online Staff
HOUSTON, Oct. 5 -- Energy futures prices regained a little of their previous losses amid speculation Thursday that members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries might again cut production this year.
OPEC officials denied reports that cartel members might meet to take action over the weekend, although they did acknowledge that energy ministers are keeping in touch by telephone.
The average price for OPEC's basket of seven crudes inched up 26¢ to $19.91/bbl Thursday, the ninth consecutive trading day that price has been below the cartel's targeted range of $22-$28/bbl. According to a previous agreement among OPEC members, production is to be adjusted if the group's basket price moves outside the target range for 10 consecutive days of trading.
The November contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes rose by 55¢ to $22.63/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while the December contract gained 53¢ to $22.97/bbl. Both contracts continued to increase in after-hours electronic trading to $22.70/bbl and $23.04/bbl, respectively.
Home heating oil for November delivery bumped up 1.32¢ to 65.27¢/gal on the NYMEX. Unleaded gasoline for the same month inched up 0.36¢ to 63.29¢/gal. The November natural gas contract regained another 9.4¢ to $2.41/Mcf.
Analysts said forecasts of a cold front moving into the northeast US this weekend also helped boost prices. That could bring snowfall and lower temperatures to sections of the world's largest market for heating oil.
In London, speculation of possible OPEC action caused a rally that pushed North Sea Brent back above $22/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange. The November Brent contract gained 63¢ to $22.15/bbl.
However, the November natural gas contract dipped 1.4¢ to the equivalent of $3.45/Mcf on the IPE.