The front month contract for Brent North Sea crude oil was last seen changing hands at USD 76.03/bbl on the ICE platform,
down USD 0.03 on the previous day's close.
On Tuesday, the March Brent contract gained USD 2.95 to settle at USD 76.06/bbl, while on Nymex, the WTI front month contract rose USD 2.80 to USD 77.23/bbl.
Continuation of the positive sentiment in equities and a weaker US dollar helped oil prices to push higher on Tuesday, said David Moore, chief commodity strategist at Commonweath Bank in Australia.
Optimistic sentiment was generated after US pending home sales stabilised in December - up 1% - after November's plunge and German retail sales rose slightly for the month - up 0.8%, said Austrialia's ANZ bank.
Furthermore, positive earnings results from bellwether company United Parcel Service - its fourth-quarter profit nearly tripled - improved risk appetite and sent equity markets higher, which also supported energy markets, the bank added.
Meanwhile the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported crude inventories rose sharply, up 4.72m bbl in the reporting week, despite an 87,000 bbl/day increase in refinery runs to 13.59m bbl/day, said JP Morgan.
"Crude oil has hardly moved on Wednesday,” Moore said, adding the US Energy Information Administration's inventory data out later would give the market more direction.
Players were expecting to see a 0.5m bbl/day increase in crude stocks, said Stephen Schork of the Schork Report.
Gas price falls
UK prompt gas prices fell on Tuesday despite the fact total demand was set to rise by 40mcm to around 390mcm amid a slight drop in temperatures forecast for Wednesday, a German trader said.
The day-ahead contract closed 0.90p weaker day on day at 36.35p/th, according to one broker.
"Amid few new impulses, prices are continuing down as a late reaction to Monday's plunge,” the trader said, adding spot could drop towards 30p/th when temperatures climbed above average towards the weekend.
Coal prices in the API 2 window rose, with the front quarter ending the session up USD 0.75 at USD 81/t, according to one broker. The Cal 11 contract rose USD 1.50 to a last trade of USD 93.25/t.
In the European carbon market, the Dec 10 EUA contract closed at EUR 12.74/t, up a mere EUR 0.02 day on day on Monday's close.
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Mittwoch, 03.02.2010, 08:26 Uhr