MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices fall ahead of inventory report, Easter holiday

Light, sweet crude oil prices fell slightly on the New York market Mar. 22 with the May contract closing at $41.45/bbl, down 7¢. The May contract is the new front-month contract as of the Mar. 21 closing. The Mar. 22 settlement marked the highest oil front-month closing price on the New York market since Dec. 1, 2015. But traders and analysts refused to read much into that, saying it’s a quiet trading week ahead of the Easter holiday weekend.

The release of the weekly inventory report on US oil and product supplies was scheduled for later Mar. 23.

Market participants continue to discount the likelihood of any major news coming out of a planned Apr. 17 meeting in Qatar of major oil producers, including representatives of both the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC nations.

That meeting was scheduled to discuss a proposal to freezing oil production at January levels. Some producing nations already have said they will not attend.

Without Iran or Libya participating, the meeting is “turning more and more into a farce,” Commerzbank analysts said in a research note.

Energy prices

The June crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 2¢ on Mar. 22 to $42.44/bbl.

The NYMEX natural gas contract for April rose 3.5¢ to a rounded $1.86/MMbtu. The Henry Hub gas price was $1.75/MMbtu, down 1¢.

Heating oil for April delivery gained nearly 1.5¢ to a rounded $1.25/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending for April rose 3.8¢ to a rounded $1.50/gal on Mar. 22.

The Brent crude contract for May on London’s ICE climbed 25¢ to $41.79/bbl. The June contract was up 28¢ to $42.51/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for April was $374/tonne, up $3.75.

The average price for OPEC’s basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $36.68/bbl, up 41¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at

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