Market watch: Rising stocks push prices down

Futures prices for oil and refined products declined Tuesday prior to a weekly report on US inventories that proved even more bearish than expected. The August contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes lost 49¢ to $25.57/bbl, then fell another 37¢ in after-hours electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.


By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, July 18 -- Futures prices for oil and refined products declined in international markets Tuesday prior to a weekly report on US inventories that proved even more bearish than expected.

After the close of trade on New York Mercantile Exchange, the American Petroleum Institute reported that US oil inventories increased by 5.6 million bbl to just under 316 million bbl total last week. Distillate fuel stocks also were up 2.8 million bbl to 119.2 million bbl.

API showed a draw down of 2.8 million bbl of unleaded gasoline during the week. But refiners have been running at near capacity all summer, and the remaining inventory of nearly 218 million bbl of gasoline is more than enough to supply the diminished seasonal demand seen so far, analysts said.

A sell-off of crude futures Tuesday on the NYMEX pushed the August contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes down another 49¢ to $25.57/bbl, while the September contract lost 32¢ to $25.59/bbl. Following the API report, both contracts continued to fall in after-hours electronic trading to $25.20/bbl and $25.27/bbl, respectively.

Unleaded gasoline for August delivery also dipped by 0.13¢ to 74.24¢/gal. Home heating oil for the same month was down 0.12¢ to 68.69/bbl. However, the August contract for natural gas gained 9.7¢ to $3.17/Mcf on the NYMEX.

In London, futures prices for North Sea Brent crude also declined in expectation of a continued build-up of US inventories. The August Brent contract closed at $24.89/bbl, down 28¢ for the day after trading in the range of $24.87-$25.54/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange. The August natural gas contract increased by 3.7¢ to the equivalent of $2.59/Mcf on the IPE, however.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of seven crudes was unchanged at $23.20/bbl Tuesday.

More in Economics & Markets