Crude futures fall
VIENNA, Austria – Oil futures prices fell Monday in response to some warmer weather in the United States that would presumably lower demand for home-heating fuel.Light sweet crude for January delivery lost 66 cents to $57.40 a barrel in afternoon trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract had fallen $1.93 to settle at $58.06 Friday, its lowest close since Nov. 30. The January contract will expire Tuesday.February Brent crude futures on London’s ICE Futures exchange fell 76 cents to $56.37 a barrel.The recent decline in Nymex crude prices came as temperatures rose in New York and throughout the U.S. Northeast, the world’s largest market for heating oil. But the milder weather was expected to be short-lived, forecasters said.”It’s a week where the East gets a break in the cold weather, but it will not last very long. During the holiday week, the cold and snowy weather returns,” Accuweather.com meteorologist Henry Margusity said Sunday in a report.Mike Fitzpatrick of brokerage Fimat USA Inc. said that while mild U.S. weather was keeping downward pressure on oil futures, their late November lows of mid-$50’s were likely “out of reach” for now.Still, Jonathan Copus of Investec Securities in London suggested prices could slip marginally in the new year.”People are going for a $55 Brent average next year,” he said. Nymex crude prices could go $1.50 to $2 higher than that, he said.Nymex heating oil futures declined by 3.2 cents to $1.70 a gallon, while gasoline futures dropped 4.19 cents to $1.527 a gallon.Natural gas futures dipped by 1.3 cent to $13.62 per 1,000 cubic feet. The contract reached an all-time intraday high of $15.78 per 1,000 cubic feet last Tuesday.—Associated Press Writer Gillian Wong in Singapore contributed to this report.