Oil prices dip on report of rising jobless claims | Shanghai Daily

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Oil prices dip on report of rising jobless claims

ENERGY prices fell yesterday after the U.S. government reported that jobs remain in short supply. Natural gas prices dropped to new seven-year lows.

The Labor Department said the number of first-time unemployment claims rose unexpectedly for the second straight week. The enormous number of layoffs has led to a sharp drop-off in the amount of gasoline being used, with so many people no longer commuting to work.

Benchmark crude for October delivery gave up 92 cents to settle at US$72.91 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The September contract, which ends yesterday, advanced 12 cents to settle at US$72.54.

Crude prices spiked Wednesday when the government reported an unexpectedly large drawdown in supply, but the same data shows that demand is not growing - imports are falling.

The lack of demand extended to natural gas as well, with major power users like manufacturers cutting back.

The Energy Information Administration also reported yesterday that the country's stockpile of natural gas expanded last week to 19.1 percent above the five-year average.

Elsewhere, economic reports gave a mixed look at the health of the economy.

The Conference Board's measure of employment, stocks and other leading economic indicators showed the recession has likely bottomed out and may end this summer.

But the Mortgage Bankers Association said Americans homeowners continue to struggle with their finances. More than 13 percent of homeowners with a mortgage are either behind on their payments or in foreclosure, the association said.

In other Nymex trading, gasoline for September delivery fell 5.24 cents to settle at US$1.9822 a gallon, and heating oil for September delivery gave up 3.35 cents to settle at US$1.8852 a gallon. Natural gas for September delivery lost 17.4 cents to settle at US$2.945 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent prices fell US$1.26 to settle at US$73.33 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.



 

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