Market watch: Energy prices fall

US energy futures prices generally declined Wednesday in the wake of a generally bearish update of petroleum inventories. The June contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes dipped 12¢ to $28.86/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange.


By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, May 17 -- US energy futures prices generally declined Wednesday in the wake of a generally bearish update of petroleum inventories.

The June contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes dipped 12¢ to $28.86/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while the July oil contract lost 19¢ to $29.16/bbl. Both contracts continued to slide in after-hours electronic trading to $28.74/bbl and $29.04/bbl, respectively.

Unleaded gasoline for June delivery dropped 1.6¢ to 98.76¢/gal on the NYMEX. But home heating oil for the same month rose 0.89¢ to 77.52¢/gal. The June natural gas contract also tumbled 35.5¢ to $4.30/Mcf.

There was a more muted response to the latest US inventory figures on the International Petroleum Exchange in London. The expiring June contract for North Sea Brent crude closed at $28.36/bbl, up 20¢ for the day, after trading in a range of $27.95-$28.88/bbl.

Prices for other months settled slightly lower, with the July Brent contract down 4¢ to $28.43/bbl. Oil futures are likely to remain in a narrow range for the near term until some fresh news provides more momentum in that market, analysts said.

The June natural gas contract declined by 2¢ to the equivalent of $3.13/Mcf on the IPE.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of seven crudes increased by 24¢ to $26.14/bbl Wednesday.

The American Petroleum Institute reported late Tuesday that US crude inventories increased by nearly 2 million bbl to a total 322.5 million bbl last week. US gasoline stocks were up 2.4 million bbl to 203.3 million bbl, but distillate stocks unexpectedly fell by 2 million bbl to 102.6 million bbl.

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