MARKET WATCH: Oil prices rise moderately with no major impetus

Energy prices continued to rise moderately Sept. 21, with no major events to push the market in any direction. Instead, markets appeared buoyed by the economic stimulus programs earlier announced by the US Federal Reserve System and Japan’s central bank.

Investors last week seemed at times uncertain whether to focus on “any potential leftover value” from the Fed’s proposed third round of quantitative easing, the 3-day selloff of oil futures that started Sept. 17, hopes for a Spanish bailout, the Bank of Japan's decision to expand monetary easing, “or the iPhone's launch,” said analysts in the Houston office of Raymond James & Associates Inc.

It was, as they said, “a lot to take in.” But broader markets ended the week flat while crude dropped 6% in the New York market, with subsequent losses of 5% on the SIG Oil Exploration & Production Index and 3% on the Oil Service Index.

Energy prices

The new front-month November contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes and the December contract gained 47¢ each to $92.89/bbl and $93.21/bbl, respectively, Sept. 21 in the New York Mercantile Exchange. On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate at Cushing, Okla., climbed $1.02 to match the November contract’s closing price of $92.89/bbl.

Heating oil for October delivery increased 2.32¢ to $3.12/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated stock for oxygenate blending for the same month rose 3.85¢ to $2.94/gal.

The October natural gas contract continued to rally, up 8.8¢ to $2.89/MMbtu on NYMEX. On the US spot market, gas at Henry Hub, La., inched up 0.7¢ to $2.77/MMbtu.

In London, the November IPE contract for North Sea Brent advanced $1.39 to $111.42/bbl. Gas oil for October escalated $11.50 to $974.75/tonne.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes regained $2.27 to $108.15/bbl. So far this year, OPEC’s basket price has averaged $110.24/bbl.

Contact Sam Fletcher at samf@ogjonline.com.

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