Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Bargain Hunters Help Lift Depressed Price of Oil

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Bargain Hunters Help Lift Depressed Price of Oil

Article excerpt

NEW YORK (AP) - Crude oil futures settled lower Wednesday, but bargain hunters on a last-minute buying spree helped lift prices from their worst levels.

Still, traders remained largely bearish amid disappointment that a recent meeting of ministers of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries failed to produce any tangible results.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, the contract for May delivery of West Texas Intermediate, the benchmark grade of U.S. crude oil, slid 48 cents to $16.96 per 42-gallon barrel after plummeting 41 cents on Tuesday. The contract, which traded as low as $16.60 a barrel, hasn't settled as low since December 1988.

But other contract months took far less of a hit. June crude was off just 30 cents a barrel while the August contract was down 34 cents.

Analysts are reluctant to attach too much significance to declines in the May contract since it expires Friday. As a contract nears its expiration, its price becomes increasingly more volatile.

The May contract closed $1.13 lower than the June contract when a more typical discount is closer to 30 to 50 cents a barrel, noted Bob Baker, senior energy analyst at Prudential-Bache Securities Inc.

Major oil companies also continued to cut posted prices for crude oil.

Sun Refining and Marketing Co. in Tulsa said it has lowered the price it will pay for domestic crude oil by 75 cents per barrel except for four grades - Oklahoma Sour, South Texas Light, South Louisiana and Texas Upper Gulf Coast which are down $1 dollar) per barrel.

Sun will now pay $16 per barrel for Oklahoma Sweet; $15.75 for West Texas Intermediate, Lower Louisiana Sweet and North Texas; $15.25 for South Texas Light; and $13.75 for Oklahoma Sour.

Refined petroleum products traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell sharply after finishing mixed on Tuesday. …

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