Oil, natural gas futures decline amid mild weather | VailDaily.com

Oil, natural gas futures decline amid mild weather

WASHINGTON – Energy futures prices slipped on Tuesday despite a nerve-rattling move by Iran to resume nuclear research, and some analysts said it could signal a fading of bullish sentiment.Above-normal winter temperatures in parts of the U.S. have dampened demand for home-heating fuels such as natural gas, allowing supplies to build while putting downward pressure on prices.”The laws of economics still apply and higher prices call forth more supply while dampening demand,” said Tim Evans, an oil analyst at IFR Energy Services who has held a bearish oil-price outlook for some time. “The long view of the market’s history, filled with booms and busts, is on our side.”In the U.S. Northeast, the world’s largest consumer of heating oil, temperatures were spring-like and forecasters expect them to continue through the week.Natural gas for February delivery fell 2.4 cents to settle at $9.336 per 1,000 cubic feet. The front-month contract is down nearly 40 percent since Dec. 13, when it hit an all-time peak of $15.78 on concerns of a potentially cold winter and disrupted production in the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.Nymex crude-oil prices dipped 13 cents to settle at $63.37 a barrel, reversing earlier gains that came after Iran removed seals on its nuclear research facilities, allowing work to resume despite warnings from Western countries concerned about stability in the oil-rich Middle East.Iran said its action was to prepare for fuel research only and that it was not resuming work to produce nuclear weapons.February Brent crude futures on London’s ICE Futures exchange rose 27 cents to $62.28 a barrel.Heating oil futures slid 2.98 cents to $1.7379 a gallon, while gasoline futures fell 3.06 cents to $1.7371 a gallon.While U.S. government data on fuel inventories due Wednesday are expected to show a drop in crude stocks, analysts said levels were still expected to remain higher than a year ago.Analysts also expect that the data will show rising stockpiles of distillate fuel, which includes heating oil and diesel.According to an average of estimates from 10 analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires, distillate stocks rose about 1.7 million barrels last week. A rise of that size would push distillate stocks to just above the U.S. federal Energy Information Administration’s five-year average.Vail, Colorado

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