Market watch, Sept. 1

A warning by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will likely increase production if oil prices remain above $28/bbl through mid-September weakened international futures markets Thursday.


A warning by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will likely increase production if oil prices remain above $28/bbl through mid-September weakened international futures markets Thursday.

There also was more speculation that Saudi Arabia is discussing a production hike with its fellow OPEC members.

The October contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes dipped 20� to $33.12/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while the November contract was down 21� to $32.21/bbl. The October position remained unchanged in after-hours electronic trading, but the November contract eased up to $32.23/bbl.

The September contract for home heating oil lost 0.83� to finish at 98.42�/gal on the NYMEX.

But unleaded gasoline for the same month jumped 1.15� to $1.0114/gal with news of a fire in a Pennsylvania refinery. That plant's catalytic cracker unit has been shut down for an undisclosed period, sources reported.

The October contract for natural gas was down 1.9� to $4.78/Mcf Thursday.

In London, profit-taking on the International Petroleum Exchange took the October contract for North Sea Brent crude down 26� to $31.72/bbl. Brokers said that market will probably consolidate just above $31/bbl before rallying again.

The October natural gas contract regained 2� to the equivalent of $2.88/Mcf on the IPE.

On the Singapore Exchange, Brent crude oil closed at $31.72/bbl, down 26�. The November position fell by 24� to $31.23.

The average price for OPEC's basket of seven crudes inched up 1� to $31.71/bbl Thursday.

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