COMMODITIES : Heating Oil Prices Rise on Report of Tightening Supply
Futures prices for heating oil advanced on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday, reflecting tightening supplies as the nation heads into the winter season.
On other markets, soybeans and soy meal futures were sharply lower, livestock futures were mixed and precious metals were mixed.
Weekly industry data released after the close of trading Tuesday showed a drawdown in U.S. heating oil stocks when the market had expected to see a buildup.
The 656,000-barrel decline reported by the American Petroleum Institute was relatively modest but, compared to the expected increase of 2.8 million barrels, it was enough to motivate the market, said Andrew Lebow, an analyst for Shearson Lehman Bros. in New York.
“Stocks continue to be relatively tight, particularly in the Northeast,” he said, “and we’re getting closer to the peak demand period.”
Lebow said there also was some buying to offset earlier sales with the approach of the meeting of the 13-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
“Everybody’s been talking about it for a couple of weeks, but it’ll take center stage next week,” he said.
“Some people believe there’s a chance OPEC’s going to raise prices, but I don’t see a price increase,” Lebow said, adding that there probably will be an effort to get Iraq to cut back its oil production to the quota set by the cartel.
“They have to do something to get production to match demand,” he said.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed 1 cent to 10 cents higher, with the contract for delivery in January at $18.56 a barrel; heating oil was 0.15 cent to 0.81 cent higher, with January at 55.67 cents a gallon, and unleaded gasoline was 0.34 cent lower to 0.10 cent higher, with January at 48.29 cents a gallon.
Soybean and soy meal futures prices declined sharply on the Chicago Board of Trade.
“It was mostly a massive day of long liquidation and profit taking,” said Victor Lespinasse, a trader with Dean Witter Reynolds. “Soybean meal got clobbered with a lot of commercial selling.”
The December soybean meal contract lost more than $7 a ton.
Soybeans also posted sharp declines of 18 cents a bushel, but trimmed the losses near the close of trading.
Wheat futures closed 2.25 cents lower to 2 cents higher, with December at $3.0675 a bushel; corn was 1.75 cents to 3.75 cents lower, with December at $1.865 a bushel; oats were 3.5 cents to 5.25 cents lower, with December at $2.0475 a bushel, and soybeans were 5 cents to 13.25 cents lower, with January at $6.01 a bushel.
Livestock futures were mixed while pork bellies retreated on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Lackluster packer demand for live animals and pressure on wholesale beef prices combined to bring down spot market prices for cattle, said Philip Stanley, an analyst with Thomson McKinnon Securities in Chicago.
The market tried to rally, but most of the support came from buying to offset earlier sales, “rather than people actually wanting to come and buy,” he said.
Hog and belly futures prices were limited by an abundance of pork on the market combined with only moderate demand, Stanley said.
Live cattle closed 0.07 cent lower to 0.15 cent higher, with December at 64.10 cents a pound; feeder cattle were 0.05 cent to 0.50 cent higher, with January at 74.57 cents a pound; live hogs were 0.23 cent lower to 0.05 cent higher, with December at 43.90 cents a pound, and frozen pork bellies were 0.37 cent to 0.65 cent lower, with February at 53.92 cents a pound.
Precious metals futures were mixed on the Commodity Exchange in New York.
Gold closed $2.30 to $2.50 lower, with the contract for delivery in December at $488.10 an ounce. Silver was 3.1 cents to 4.1 cents higher, with December at $6.968 an ounce.