Market watch, Oct. 3

Energy futures prices jumped in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange Monday. Persian Gulf tensions and a hurricane developing in the Gulf of Mexico helped boost prices.

Energy futures prices jumped in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange Monday.

The NYMEX November contract for benchmark light, sweet crude advanced by $1.34 to rest at $32.18/bbl, while the December contract stood at $31.86, up by $1.15.

Refined petroleum products also closed higher on the NYMEX, with November home heating oil rising by 3.49� to settle at 96.05�/gal, while unleaded gasoline for the same month put on 3.66� to settle at 88.31�.

NYMEX natural gas for November delivery surged by 16.6� to close at $5.35/Mcf.

Observers said traders were nervous about signs of renewed tensions between Iraq and Kuwait and the prospects of reduced exports from the region.

Also, traders were concerned about a hurricane developing in the Gulf of Mexico that could cause production platforms to shut down.

Analysts said that with inventories being at very low levels, every piece of bullish news was having more than its due impact on the market.

In after-hours electronic access trading in New York today, light, sweet crude brought $32.09/bbl for the November position and $31.80 for the December contract, both down from the NYMEX close.

Meanwhile, in London Monday, North Sea Brent crude oil futures ended sharply higher on the International Petroleum Exchange, as the morning's rally accelerated once NYMEX floor trading resumed in the afternoons. As with the NYMEX, the IPE market reacted strongly to news of Persian Gulf tensions.

The NYMEX market also appeared more concerned about the apparent bottleneck in the US refining industry.

As analysts pointed out a week or more ago, US refineries are working at very close to full capacity and cannot increase production much to speed up the build of product inventories.

The increased flow of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' crude and the release of US strategic stocks will take some time to be felt in the market and therefore will not entirely protect US consumers from high fuel prices this winter.

On Monday, IPE November Brent futures settled at $31.08/bbl, up by $1.24 from Friday's close. The day's high was $31.27 dollars and the low $30.10.

Also in London, the November natural gas contract closed at the equivalent of $3.43/Mcf, down 5�.

October gas oil ended the IPE session at $292.50/tonne, up by $11.50 from Friday. The day's high was $299.50 and the low was $292.50.

On the Singapore exchange, North Sea Brent crude for November delivery added 88� to settle at $31.08/bbl. December Brent shot up $1.03 to $31.03/bbl.

The OPEC basket of seven crudes stood at $29.86/bbl on Monday, compared with $28.46 the previous Friday.

More in Refining