Natural gas prices climbed steeply in Dec. 19 trading on the New York market following the release of a government report showing a record weekly withdrawal of gas from underground storage, which analysts attributed to cold temperatures across the country in recent weeks.

The US Energy Information Administration reported a decline of 285 bcf for the week ended Dec. 13 (OGJ Online, Dec. 19, 2013). Because of the upcoming Christmas holiday, the next EIA gas storage report will be released Dec. 27, one day later than normal.

Crude oil futures also climbed during Dec. 19 trading as analysts and traders anticipated higher fuel consumption based upon positive US economic indicators from the Federal Reserve.

In January, Fed officials plan to trim $10 billion/month from their economic stimulus program. The program has supported crude oil prices by weakening the dollar, making oil cheaper to buy with other currencies. Currently, the Fed spends $85 billion/month in its bond-purchase program.

"The taper announcement is having a positive impact on equities markets, and crude oil is going along for the ride," Stephen Schork, editor of the Schork Report, told the Wall Street Journal.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange January crude contract climbed 97¢ to close at $98.77/bbl on Dec. 19. The February contract rose 98¢ to settle at $99.04/bbl.

Heating oil for February delivery climbed 1.8¢, settling at a rounded $3.03/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for January delivery was up 4.3¢ to a rounded $2.74/gal.

The January natural gas contract on NYMEX rose 20.9¢ to settle at $4.46/MMbtu. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub, La., increased 1.1¢ to a rounded $4.27/MMbtu.

In London, the February ICE contract for Brent crude oil climbed 66¢, closing at $110.29/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for January was up $6.25 to settle at $935.25/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes closed at $107.49/bbl on Dec. 19, up 75¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.