MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil futures prices fall on higher US oil inventory

Crude oil futures prices were down modestly on the New York market Sept. 17 after a weekly government report showed an unexpected jump in the US crude oil inventory.

The estimated crude oil inventory increased by 3.7 million bbl to 362.3 million bbl for the week ended Sept. 12, the Energy Information Administration said.

Before the petroleum status report’s release on Sept. 17, analysts polled by the Wall Street Journal had expected supplies would fall by 1.2 million bbl for the week ended Sept. 12 (OGJ Online, Sept. 17, 2014).

The US Federal Reserve on Sept. 17 issued a statement indicating it was in no rush to raise interest rates. The statement followed the conclusion of a 2-day policy committee meeting.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a news conference that the Fed expects to keep rates low for a “considerable time,” and she noted the timing hinges on the economy.

“I want to emphasize that there is no mechanical interpretation of what the term ‘considerable time’ means,” she said. Fed officials also cut another $10 billion from a stimulus bond-buying program, saying they are on schedule to end that program after October.

On Sept. 18, the US Department of Labor said initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 36,000 to a seasonally adjusted 280,000 for the week ended Sept. 13, marking the largest drop in nearly 2 years. Meanwhile, the latest statistics showed the number of people continuing to draw unemployment benefits fell 63,000 to 2.4 million for the week ended Sept. 6.

Natural gas prices for October delivery rose on the futures market Sept. 17 upon forecasts calling for cool temperatures across parts of the Southwest, Midwest, and Northeast in the coming 7-10 days.

The EIA noted rising gas storage levels across the Lower 48 states in the agency’s weekly gas storage report.

Working gas in storage was a rounded 2.9 tcf as of Sept. 12, EIA estimated. That represented a net increase of 90 bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 401 bcf less than last year at this time and 444 bcf below the 5-year average of 3.3 tcf.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange October crude oil contract dropped 46¢ to $94.42/bbl on Sept. 17 while the November contract gave up 61¢ to $93.20/bbl.

The natural gas contract for October was up 1.8¢ to a rounded $4.01/MMbtu. On the US cash market, gas at Henry Hub, La., gained 12¢ to $3.97/MMbtu.

Heating oil for October delivery was down 1.1¢ to a rounded $2.75/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for October delivery climbed 1¢ to at a rounded $2.57/gal.

The November ICE contract for Brent crude delivery dropped 8¢ to $98.87/bbl. The December Brent contract was down 17¢ to $99.56/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for October was unchanged at $834.75/tonne.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes on Sept. 17 was $95.84/bbl, up 54¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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