Crude prices up but off earlier highs
Crude oil prices were higher Monday, but by early afternoon they had fallen from earlier highs as August contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude was up 25 cents to $76.26 per barrel after having been as high as $77.73 per barrel earlier in the day.
With August contracts expiring at the end of trade on Tuesday, more active September contracts were up 45 cents to $76.83 per barrel, while contracts for Brent crude were up 13 cents to $75.50 per barrel at last report from the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.
The earlier gains were fueled by positive earnings reports from US companies, including from oilfield services group Halliburton (NYSE: HAL), which said its earnings were up 83 percent in the second quarter, and that its contract with BP (LSE: BP) protects it from liability for the cement work it did on BP’s leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.
Prices backed off highs after US equities markets fell back on new figures from the National Association of Homebuilders and Wells Fargo, which said their index of homebuilder sentiment fell to 14 in June, its lowest point in over a year.
Nymex August gasoline and heating oil futures each added about a cent in early afternoon trade, advancing to 2.06 per gallon and $2.02 per gallon respectively, while August natural gas futures fell fractionally to trade at $4.51 per million British thermal units.
The retail price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the United States was down slightly overnight to $2.722 per gallon on average nationally.
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