MARKET WATCH: NYMEX, Brent oil prices edging down on weak fundamentals

Light, sweet crude oil prices for May delivery fell 7¢ on Mar. 28, continuing downward momentum that started before the long Easter holiday weekend. Oil prices continued falling in light trading early Mar. 29 ahead of a scheduled speech from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

Traders and analysts hoped Yellen would provide some guidance on future US monetary policy.

Regarding international oil markets, analysts said skepticism is growing that any remedies to the world oil oversupply situation actually will result from an April meeting scheduled in Qatar for major oil producers, including representatives from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC countries.

Major producers plan to discuss whether to freeze oil production at January’s high output levels. Iran already said that it intends to ramp up production and export levels following the lifting of nuclear-related international sanctions against its oil exports.

Optimism about the freeze proposal, outlined in February, previously supported oil prices for a few weeks.

“We had a very big rally, consolidating at higher levels, and now there’s some retracement,” said Petromatrix analyst Olivier Jakob.

Australian bank Macquarie issued a research note saying its research indicates oil prices could fall back to $30/bbl because of risks, including more exports from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria as well as a strengthening US dollar. Oil trades in dollars.

The previous oil price rally “occurred against a backdrop of weak fundamentals,” Macquarie said.

Energy prices

The May crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped 7¢ to $39.39/bbl on Mar. 28. The June contract was down 10¢ to $40.53/bbl.

The NYMEX natural gas contract for April rose 4¢ to a rounded $1.85/MMbtu. The Henry Hub gas price was $1.73/MMbtu, up 1¢.

Heating oil for April delivery declined nearly 2¢ to $1.18/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending for April edged up less than a penny to a rounded $1.47/gal on Mar. 28.

The Brent crude contract for May on London’s ICE declined 17¢ to $40.27/bbl. The June contract was down 16¢ to $40.87/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for April was $352/tonne on Mar. 28, down $8.75.

The average price for OPEC’s basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $35.48/bbl on Mar. 28, up 52¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at

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