NYMEX oil ends week down, signals mixed on curbs

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NYMEX oil ends week down, signals mixed on curbs

NEW YORK, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Crude oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) finished the week lower Friday in choppy trade as the market grappled with mixed signals on supply curbs from key producers.

A senior OPEC source Friday told Reuters OPEC was bent on keeping the cuts after their end-March expiry if market conditions at that time remain as they are now.

"It all depends on when we come to March...If things remain as they are now then we have to do nothing (keep cuts in place)," the OPEC source, familiar with recent talks among key oil producers, told Reuters.

The comment came after crude oil prices tumbled Thursday after Mexico's oil minister, Luis Tellez, suggested that producers could raise output after March to ease tight suplies.

Near the close Friday there was more bearish news.

Venezuelan Energy and Mines Minister Ali Rodriguez hinted OPEC could decide to increase oil output in the second half of the year if forecasted demand materializes,

He said Venezuela was in a position to raise output to meet any likely demand growth this year and that oil prices have begun to return to "acceptable levels" for consumers and producers.

Crude oil for March delivery settled at $27.22 a barrel, losing 10 cents on the day. The contract recouped some losses on short-covering after slipping below $27 and posting a session low of $26.95 late.

From a week ago March crude was down 98 cents or 3.5 percent. The contract hit a high of $29.10 last Friday, when it took over as front month. The February contract shot up to a nine year-high of $29.95, the highest since the Gulf War, before expiring the day before.

February heating oil, which is expiring on Monday, ended at 92.51 cents a gallon, up 1.34 cents. The contract was off 0.99 cent or one percent from a week ago, when it hit nine-year highs.

The contract climbed to a session high of 93.00 cents, aided by forecasts of cold weather lasting till early next in the Northeast, but trimmed gains as traders continued to wound down positions ahead of the contract's expiry on Monday.

February gasoline, which also expires on Monday, finished at 74.31 cents a gallon, up 0.16 cent.

In London, March Brent crude last traded eight cents up at $25.70, moving up from the day's low of $25.45 in choppy trade.

Earlier, news that U.S. lawmakers were stepping up efforts to force the sale of oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to ease currently high petroleum prices discouraged buying, traders said.

"There's a bit of a downward pressure on the market for the short-run...it could be downward correction, but the market could attempt to be be back up again," said Tom Bentz, trader and analyst at Paribas Futures in New York.

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson has resisted pressure from politicians and businesses to sell oil from the SPR, saying it should be used only in times of supply emergencies and not to control prices.

The industry group American Petroleum Institute (API) said Thursday U.S. stocks of heating oil were within "normal historical" levels and the federal government does not need to sell any oil from the SPR to ensure adequate supplies.

Current producers' output cuts, which have reduced oil supply by more than four million barrels per day (bpd), have worked to push up oil prices from a low of $10.35 a barrel in December 1998 to near $30 just last week.

) copyright 2000 Reuters, Ltd.

-- Possible Impact (posim@hotmail.com), January 28, 2000


Can you say JAWBONING????

"Might increase production for the second half of 2000"

Hmmmmm mmmm gonna take em 5 months to clean it up, huh??


-- Chuck, a night driver (rienzoo@en.com), January 28, 2000.

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