Updated form 1:27 p.m. EDT
Crude prices fell Monday as Hurricane Emily weakened and more evidence pointed to slowing growth in worldwide energy demand.
August crude closed down 77 cents to $57.32 a barrel on Nymex. Gasoline futures dropped about 5 cents to $1.64 a gallon.
Emily has reportedly weakened to Category 2 from a Category 4 storm, moving over southern Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula. Weather reports suggest the storm will continue to lose steam as it moves over land.
Also pressuring prices Monday was OPEC's monthly oil market report, in which it projected that 2005 demand for its crude will be 28.9 million barrels a day, 260,000 fewer barrels than it previously expected. Since OPEC has been producing about 30 million barrels a day in the second quarter, Monday's estimate could signal that fourth-quarter supply crunch concerns are overdone.
The report also said demand for OPEC oil is expected to rise by 100,000 barrels a day in 2006, which is significantly lower than the previous forecast of 700,000 barrels a day. Moreover, the cartel said its outlook for spare capacity this year is about 7.9%, up from 4.9% last year.
"I don't think the OPEC report will have a significant impact on the market since it is basically in line with what the IEA said a week ago," says Thorsten Fischer, senior economist at Economy.com. "The more bearish factor is that Hurricane Emily is less likely to damage oil infrastructure."
In addition to updating its estimate of demand for its own crude, OPEC also revised down its estimate of the total global oil demand by 150,000 barrels a day from its prior report.
In company news, analyst Brad Handler at Wachovia raised
, an equipment and service provider to the oil and gas industry, to an overweight rating, citing its oilfield strength as a revenue and earnings driver through 2006. Handler increased his full-year estimated earnings to $1.29 a share, from $1.25. The stock added 52 cents, or 1.5%, to $33.97.
Meanwhile, Citigroup analyst Doug Leggate cut both
to hold from buy. "Both continue to offer strong event-driven catalysts that underpin meaningful upside on anything other than a short-term view," Leggate said in a note. He said the companies already have realized much of their near-term potential and that "better entry points lie ahead." Earlier, shares of Marathon dropped 88 cents, or 1.5%, to $54.42, and Occidental dropped 0.4% to $78.50.
In earnings news,
said its second-quarter net income doubled from last year thanks to an increase in its worldwide rig utilization. It also cited higher average rates in the Gulf of Mexico, North Sea and Brazil. Earnings rose to $73.3 million, or 53 cents a share, on operating revenues of $344 million, compared with $34.4 million, or 26 cents a share, on operating revenues of $253 million a year ago. Analysts on average expected second-quarter earnings of 54 cents a share, according to Thomson Financial.
, another driller enjoying a surge in offshore rig rates, Monday provided full-year earnings guidance of 16 cents to 26 cents a share, which is substantially higher than its old range of 5 cents to 14 cents a share.
According to the Thomson Financial poll, analysts' average estimate is 4 cents a share. Despite the news, shares fell 1% to $6.90.
Among the major oil producers, shares were mixed Monday.
( RD) fell 1% and