MARKET WATCH: US oil prices settle under $44/bbl pending inventory

The light, sweet crude oil price for July delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell by nearly $1/bbl to settle at $43.23/bbl on June 20. US futures prices have fallen in four of the last five trading sessions to set a new 2017 low.

The Wall Street Journal reported light, sweet crude prices are down 20.6% since Feb. 23, marking the sixth bear market for crude in 4 years and the first since August 2016. Economists generally define a bear market as a decline of 20% or more from a recent peak.

In October 2016, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and some other major producers agreed to production-cut targets of 1.8 million b/d. The alliance of producers in May extended the production-cut targets through the first-quarter 2018.

Analysts say oil prices have fallen despite these efforts to reduce world oil oversupply and strengthen oil prices.

The US Energy Information Administration planned to release its weekly oil and products inventory on June 21.

Separately, market participants closely watched the path of Tropical Storm Cindy as it came across the Gulf of Mexico, hovering south of Louisiana. The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch from southwestern Louisiana to parts of Florida.

As of 7 a.m. CDT June 21, the storm center was 165 miles south-southwest of Morgan City, La., with maximum sustained winds of about 60 mph. NWS said flash flood watches covered parts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.

Energy prices

The July light, sweet crude contract on NYMEX fell 97¢ on June 20 to settle at $43.23/bbl. The August contract decreased 92¢ to close at $43.51/bbl.

The NYMEX natural gas price for July gained 1¢ to a rounded $2.90/MMbtu. The Henry Hub cash gas price was $2.87/MMbtu, up 1¢.

Heating oil futures for July fell a rounded 2¢ to a rounded $1.39/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for July dropped by a rounded 3¢ to $1.42/gal.

The Brent crude contract for August on London’s ICE declined by 89¢ to $46.02/bbl while the September contract was down 88¢ to $46.25/bbl. The July gas oil contract declined $11.25 to $412.75/tonne.

OPEC’s basket of crudes on June 20 was $43.90/bbl, down 56¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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