MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil price jumps more than $1/bbl as May contract expires

Light, sweet crude prices for May delivery rose more than $1/bbl on the New York market Apr. 20, which was the last day of trading for that futures contract. Analysts attributed the price support to traders making short-covering transactions before the contract’s expiry and also to a weakening US dollar.

Oil trades in dollars, and a declining value in the dollar makes crude less expensive to buyers using other currencies.

Meanwhile, Kuwait’s oil workers ended their 3-day strike on Apr. 20. Analysts said the resumption of Kuwait’s crude oil production could cause downward pressure on oil prices in coming days.

US natural gas prices fell by the Apr. 20 settlement after hitting a 2-month high of nearly $2.14/MMbtu in earlier trading that same day.

“We see the current storage outlook as more neutral than bullish,” Tim Evans, Citi Futures Perspective analyst of New York, said in a note about the US gas inventory.

The US Energy Information Administration estimated gas levels in underground storage across the Lower 48 at 2.484 tcf as of Apr. 15. This represents a net increase of 7 bcf from the previous week, the Gas Storage Report said Apr. 21.

On Apr. 20, EIA’s Petroleum Status Report estimated US commercial crude oil inventories, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, gained 2.1 million bbl to 538.6 million bbl for the week ended Apr. 15 compared with the previous week.

Energy prices

The May crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange climbed $1.55 on Apr. 20 to $42.63/bbl. The June contract was up $1.71 to $44.18/bbl.

The NYMEX natural gas contract for May dropped nearly 2¢ to a rounded $2.07/MMbtu. The Henry Hub price was $2.02/MMbtu, up 12¢.

Heating oil for May delivery rose nearly 7¢ to a rounded $1.37/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending for May climbed 2.7¢ to a rounded $1.51/gal.

The Brent crude contract for June on London’s ICE was up $1.77 to $45.80/bbl. The July contract climbed $1.78 to $45.63/bbl. The gas oil contract for May was $386.75/tonne, up $8.25.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 13 benchmark crudes on Apr. 20 was $38.46/bbl, gaining 19¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at

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