Energy Futures Fall, Led By Drop in Gasoline Prices
NEW YORK (AP) _ Gasoline futures prices headed lower Wednesday as traders took profits while anticipating a steady supply of gasoline in the near future. Crude oil futures also fell but less significantly, as traders realized a reported increase in crude oil stocks Tuesday was not a sign of increased oil supplies.
Unleaded gasoline for May delivery fell 1.75 cents to 65.97 cents per gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Later contract months also fell.
Rita Beale, an energy analyst for Shearson Lehman Brothers, said some of the loss was due to technical selling. Traders also anticipate steady imports and a gain in domestic supply as refiners come out of a maintenance period and begin increasing production.
Analysts noted that even a refinery fire at an Exxon facility in New Jersey did not raise prices, as can happen when supplies are threatened.
Oil prices also moved lower, but were moderated by an industry report released late Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute. The report showed a 6.7 million barrel-a-day increase in crude oil stocks, but the increase was due to a transfer from the U.S. government’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and not an increase in imports, said Bob Baker, an energy analyst with Prudential Securities Inc. That gave some support to crude futures.
Light sweet crude for May delivery settled 23 cents lower at $19.47 per 42- gallon barrel. Later contract months slipped as well.
Home heating oil futures prices dipped with the warmer weather springtime brings. Heating oil for May delivery lost 0.95 cent per gallon to settle at 53.28 cents.
Natural gas for delivery in May settled at $1.417, down 0.3 cent a gallon.
In London, North Sea Brent Blend crude for May delivery settled at $18.11 per barrel, up 12 cents.