Futures & Commodities

Oil Settles Near $124, Posting Yet Another Record


U.S. crude oil futures ended at a record high on Thursday, fueled by yet another rally in
heating oil futures, which hit a new peak.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, June crude settled up 16 cents, or 0.13 percent, at $123.69 a barrel. It traded from $121.58 to $123.90 in regular floor trading hours.

"The heating oil price strength is providing evidence of a global tightening in gasoil/diesel supplies that hasn't been fully priced into the market," said Jim Ritterbusch, president
of Ritterbusch & Associates in Galena, Illinois.

Crude rose further in post-settlement trading to a record $124.57, bettering Wednesday's intraday peak of $123.93.

Earlier, prices were down on bearish news of a heavy booking of Saudi oil exports to the United States up to early June, OPEC's assurance it would pump more oil if needed and higher OPEC exports this month according to estimates by an analyst tracking oil flows.

In London, June Brent crude ended up 52 cents, or 0.43 percent, at $122.32 a barrel, a settlement record, after trading from $120.89 to $123.87, a record session high.

NYMEX June heating oil, which also lifted crude higher on Wednesday, finished up 6.25 cents, or 1.81 percent, at a record $3.5098 a gallon, trading from $3.4316 to $3.5152,
which eclipsed the $3.46 record peak from Wednesday.

In post-settlement trade, it rose further to a new peak of $3.5291, surpassing Wednesday's record of $3.46.

The heating oil crack spread ended at $23.72, rising from Wednesday's $21.26.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said that domestic distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, fell 100,000 barrels last week, to 105.7
million barrels, against forecasts for an 800,000-barrel rise.

In London, ICE gas oil futures hit record highs on Thursday, with the May contract to expire on Monday.

The May/June spread widened to as much as $25, highlighting the tight prompt distillate market.

NYMEX June RBOB ended up 1.96 cents, or 0.63 percent, at a record $3.1378 a gallon, trading from $3.0909 to $3.1415.

In the post-settlement trade, it rose higher to hit a new intraday peak $3.1525, beating Wednesday's peak of $3.1323.

The RBOB crack spread finished at $8.10, after ending at $7.43 on Wednesday.

World oil markets have enough supply now, but OPEC is willing to pump more if needed to keep pace with demand, Abdullah al-Badri, the group's secretary-general, said in a
statement on Thursday.

OPEC exports, excluding Angola and Ecuador, will rise 220,000 barrels per day in the four weeks to May 24 on Asian demand and a recovery in Nigerian supplies after a strike that crippled output, said Roy Mason, an analyst at British consultancy Oil Movements.

Saudi Arabia has booked eight supertankers to carry 16 million barrels of crude to the United States through May and early June, the highest number of spot cargoes this year,
according to a shipping industry source.

The euro rebounded from a two-month low against the dollar, as the European Central Bank left interest rates intact.