Saturday, July 3, 2010

Gasoline Futures Down this Week; Natural Gas Not Much Change

By Claudia Assis and Polya Lesova, MarketWatch
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Crude-oil futures on Friday fell to their lowest level in nearly a month, a lackluster end of a week that brought oil down 8.5%.
Oil held on to losses after the government reported that U.S. nonfarm payrolls declined by 125,000 in June, even as the unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped from the previous month. A steeper-than-expected decline for factory orders also did little to tip the price balance the other wayCrude for August delivery fell 81 cents, or 1.1%, to $72.14 a barrel on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. That brings weekly losses to 8.5%, oil's biggest five-day decline in nearly two months.
The negative end of the week snapped oil out of its weekly winning streak, as crude had ended the previous three weeks in the black.
Gasoline futures lost 8.3% this week. A rally on Thursday for natural-gas futures wasn't enough for gains in the five-day period, with prices falling 4.1% on the week.
The oil contract hit an intraday low of $71.54 a barrel, hampered by the mixed jobs report and declining factory orders.
Factory orders declined 1.4% in May, their biggest drop in 14 months.
The unemployment rate dropped to 9.5% in June from 9.7% in May, the lowest level since July 2009.
Also, private-sector payrolls expanded by a modest 83,000 in June, lower than the 115,000 increase expected by economists polled by MarketWatch. Total nonfarm payrolls tumbled 125,000 in June after surging 433,000 in May.
The mixed read on unemployment was likely already expected and priced in accordingly, said Tom Bentz, an analyst at BNP Paribas in New York. Markets were "quiet" ahead of the long holiday, he added. Moreover, steeper declines are unlikely as many in the market feel oil may be oversold at this point, Bentz said.
Oil futures had posted steep losses on Thursday as various economic data rekindled worries over a slowdown in global growth and its potential impact on energy demand.
"Worse-than-expected U.S. economic data increased the concerns about an economic recovery and led to massive selling pressure on the commodity markets," said analysts at Commerzbank in a note published before the release of the jobs data.

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