MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude snaps losing streak before Labor Day

Light, sweet crude oil prices snapped a 4-day losing streak Sept. 2 on the New York market on the report of fewer new US jobs than economists had expected for August. Despite the Sept. 2 oil-price gain, the US benchmark still ended the week down nearly 7% from the previous week, marking the biggest single-week decline since July.

The US Department of Labor said Sept. 2 that employers added jobs at a slower pace than anticipated in August. Nonfarm payrolls rose 151,000 while economists had forecast the addition of 180,000 jobs.

Analysts had awaited the jobs number, saying a more positive number might have strengthened the chances that the US Federal Reserve would raise interest rates in September.

Oil prices got support after Russia President Vladimir Putin urged oil-producing countries to cap production levels at an informal meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Algeria later this month. The OPEC talks will be on the sidelines of another meeting.

“The fear of some intervention, kicked off today by Putin, and others potentially to follow, will probably help the market to stabilize,” Ole Hansen, Saxo Bank head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, said Sept. 2.

But many analysts are uncertain, citing record-high Saudi Arabia oil production August.

Eugen Weinbrg, a Commerzbank analyst, said, “It is rather the obvious discrepancy between the words and the actions of oil producers that is making market participants increasingly skeptical and prompting them to abandon their long positions.”

US markets were closed Sept. 5 for the US Labor Day holiday, which traditionally marks the end of the summer driving season.

Energy prices

The October crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained $1.38 on Sept. 2 to close at $44.44/bbl. The November contract rose $1.29 to $45.04/bbl.

The natural gas contract for October held steady at a rounded $2.79/MMbtu. On the spot market, the Henry Hub gas price was $2.85/MMbtu, down 6¢.

Heating oil for October increased by about 3¢ to a rounded $1.41/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending also gained about 3¢ to a rounded $1.30/gal.

Both the November and December Brent crude contracts on London’s ICE gained $1.38 to settle at $46.83/bbl and $47.21/bbl, respectively.

The average price for OPEC’s basket of 14 benchmark crudes on Sept. 5 was up $2.06 to $43.57/bbl.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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