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Natural gas trades near $10 level
By Myra P. Saefong, CBS.MarketWatch.com Last Update: 12:01 PM ET Dec 26, 2000 NewsWatch Latest headlines Get Alerted
NEW YORK (CBS.MW) -- Strong demand for heating fuels in the Northeast pushed natural-gas futures near the $10 level Tuesday -- that's more than $3 above the highs seen at start of the month.
12/26/2000 8:52:02 AM ET On the New York Mercantile Exchange, January natural gas rose near $10 to trade at a high of $9.95 per million British thermal units, but was last at $9.60, up 2.1 cents. An earlier trade at $10 was thrown out. The contract was trading at a high just over $6.82 on Dec. 1.
January heating oil, another commodity used for heating homes, rose 5.2 cents, or 5 percent to 93 cents a gallon.
Natural gas futures have hit record highs for the last several weeks, boosted by cold weather in most of the U.S., especially in the Northeast, which is the nation's largest energy-consuming region due to its dense population.
Seasonal demand spikes, increased natural gas power generation and struggling North American deliverability helped push prices up 15 percent last week, according to a research note from David Bradshaw, an analyst at Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown. "Sustainable prices at loftier levels" persist, he said.
At last count, U.S. natural gas supplies were down 158 billion cubic feet and were 630 billion cubic feet below last year's level.
Crude heads higher
Over in the oil sector, crude futures prices climbed on the back of mounting concerns that OPEC may cut its oil output in January.
February crude futures rose 42 cents to $26.60 a barrel. January unleaded gasoline gained 1.41 cents to 75.50 cents a gallon.
Early Tuesday, OPEC President Ali Rodriguez said OPEC must take action to prevent a "collapse" in oil prices.
OPEC has indicated over the last two weeks that it may decide to lower its production quota if crude prices fall below its targeted price range of $22 to $28 a barrel. The target was breached on Thursday, when the cartel's crude basket price fell to $21.64. OPEC's price band can be triggered if prices remain below $22 for 20 straight days.
-- Martin Thompson (email@example.com), December 26, 2000