Market watch, Aug. 4

International oil markets continued to rebound Thursday, with traders haunted by fears of more shortages of home heating oil this winter.


International oil markets continued to rebound Thursday, with traders haunted by fears of more shortages of home heating oil this winter.

Many were surprised by the American Petroleum Institute's report late Tuesday of declines in crude oil imports and low inventories of heating oil stocks as the summer gasoline market peaks and attention shifts to winter markets.

The September contract for light, sweet crude oil surged by 40� to $28.66/bbl Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The October contract also gained 35� to $28.32/bbl, with trading advancing on momentum from Wednesday's session.

The September NYMEX contract for home heating oil gained 1.2� to 79.46�/gal. But unleaded gasoline for the same month dropped 1� to 85.92�/gal, with market reports of resumed production at Tosco Corp.'s New Jersey refinery, although company officials denied any shutdown at that facility.

Natural gas for September delivery jumped 3.6� to $4.25/Mcf.

The drop in US oil stocks also gave a substantial boost to the London energy market, along with reports that oil ministers from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Mexico plan no meetings prior to the September session of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

On the International Petroleum Exchange, the September contract for North Sea Brent jumped 72� to $28.31/bbl, while the natural gas contract gained 3� to the equivalent of $2.56/Mcf. If US oil stocks fall again, analysts said, crude futures prices might again break through the $29/bbl level.

North Sea Brent oil futures prices ended the week on a higher note on the Singapore exchange, supported strongly by growing product demand from the region. As the day ended, Singapore Brent for September was at $28.25/bbl, up 66� for the day and 89� for the week. October added 33� to $27.45, up 18� for the week.

On Thursday, the average price of OPEC's barrel of seven crudes was up 50� to $26.40/bbl.

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