Oil Rallies in Late Trading After Slow Session
NEW YORK (AP) _ Oil prices rallied late Friday after snoozing through much of the day.
The modest rise capped a week in which the nation’s supply of gasoline fell to what is considered by the government to be the minimum operating level. That made gasoline the leader at the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Unleaded gasoline for delivery in May settled at 73.64 cents a gallon, down .11 cent but up from its lowest point during the trading session. Gasoline for delivery in later months was slightly higher at the close. For the week, next-month gasoline rose 2.63 cents a gallon.
Light sweet crude oil for delivery in May settled at $21.13 per barrel, up 5 cents. For the week, next-month crude fell 35 cents a barrel.
″The crude got close to $22 three times this week and failed,″ said Stephanie Rzasa, an oil broker at Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. Still, prices stayed above the $19 to $20 range, where they had been trapped throughout March and early April.
In Friday’s trading, the May crude was weaker than later months, as traders began focusing on Monday’s expiration of the May delivery contract and selling their positions. Later delivery contracts finished as much as 36 cents per barrel higher.
Home heating oil was the laggard amid the changing seasons. For delivery in May, heating oil settled Friday at 56.06 cents a gallon, up .31 cent for the day and up .01 cent for the week.
The energy futures had been generally lower throughout most of Friday’s session, but jumped up near the end. Traders were not quite sure why, saying there had been no notable news or rumors.
Some of the rise was attributable to speculators who sold oil on the theory the price would fall, then had to buy it back when they were proven wrong, said Ann-Louise Hittle, a senior oil analyst at Shearson Lehman Brothers Inc.
Futures players would likely be looking for next Tuesday’s release of the American Petroleum Institute’s next weekly report on the nation’s supply of crude oil and petroleum products, analysts said.
The supply, imports and production of gasoline are likely to be key numbers.
Natural gas prices remain soft. For delivery in May, natural gas settled at $1.355 per 1,000 cubic feet, down 2 cents for the day and 2.1 cents for the week.
In London, North Sea Brent Blend crude oil for June delivery settled at $19.14 per barrel, up 12 cents for the day, at the International Petroleum Exchange. Next-month Brent fell 88 cents per barrel for the week, but the drop was perhaps somewhat exaggerated by the expiration of the May delivery contract.