Market watch: Uncertainty leaves energy futures mixed

Energy futures prices were mixed Thursday, as international traders tried to divine which direction the markets may move next. The July contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes recovered 20¢ to $29.04/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Jun 15th, 2001


By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, June 15 -- Energy futures prices were mixed Thursday, as international traders tried to divine which direction the markets may move next.

Oil futures prices rebounded from Wednesday's selloff triggered by the American Petroleum Institute bearish weekly report of US inventories of crude and petroleum products.

The July contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes recovered 20¢ to $29.04/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while the August oil contract inched up 4¢ to $29.20/bbl. Both contracts moved up in after-hours electronic trading to $29.10/bbl and $29.25/bbl, respectively.

Home heating oil for July delivery jumped 3.14¢ to 83.28¢/gal, but unleaded gasoline for the same month dipped by 0.15¢ to 87.18¢/gal. The July natural gas contract also declined by 7.4¢ to $4.04/Mcf on the NYMEX.

In London, the July contract for North Sea Brent oil closed at $29.55/bbl, up 21¢ in a day of fairly quiet trading in the range of $29.04-$29.82/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange. However, the July natural gas contract lost 4.4¢ to the equivalent of $2.80/Mcf on the IPE.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of seven crudes fell 81¢ to $26.56/bbl on Thursday.

The IPE oil futures market appeared to be consolidating around a price of $29.50/bbl, at least for the short term, brokers reported.

But traders seemed skeptical that the US gasoline market is strong enough to maintain international oil futures prices near the $30/bbl mark through the whole summer. Many are looking for negative news and statistics to justify pulling back, analysts said.

Meanwhile, the US Energy Information Administration reported Thursday that 75% of California's refining capacity could be forced either to reduce operations or shut down if rolling blackouts affect their electric power supplies this summer.

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