Crude Oil Prices Lower Ahead of OPEC Meeting
NEW YORK (AP) _ Crude oil prices sank Monday amid broad technical selling pressure.
Traders said the market had a negative tone before the start of a meeting in Geneva where the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will face pressure to lift production ceilings.
Light sweet crude oil for delivery next month, which lost 3 cents on Friday, fell 23 cents to settle at $19.54 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Thomas Blakeslee, an energy strategist at Brody, White and Co., said there was no specific negative news pressuring the market lower, just a negative tone in advance of the OPEC meeting.
The declines in crude, howver, related mostly to technical factors governing levels at which to sell oil futures.
The focus of the OPEC meeting will be Nigeria and Kuwait, which have called for higher production ceilings to allow them to pump additional crude.
If those demand are met, prices could be driven lower this summer, Blakeslee said. But if the countries agree to lower production levels, ″it’s likely to be perceived as bullish in the short run,″ he said.
The current limit is 23.6 billion barrels a day. The International Energy Agency said the nations increased crude pumping last month to 24.2 million barrels a day, well over the cap.
Iran appeared ready to press for a freeze at the current limit of 23.6 million barrels a day to give a lift to sagging prices.
Among other products traded on the Merc, the contract for July delivery of unleaded gasoline lost 0.78 cent to settle at 56.12 cents per gallon.
Home heating oil for delivery in July settled at 53.58 cents a gallon, off 0.56 cent.
Natural gas prices tumbled, with contracts for delivery in July settling at $2.036 per 1,000 cubic feet, off 7.4 cents.
In London, North Sea Brent Blend crude oil for delivery in July settled at $18.19 per barrel, down 12 cents on the International Petroleum Exchange.