NEW YORK (
) -- Oil futures were caught in the middle of promising second-quarter earnings from
, reports of seepage from
oil well cap and concerns about the future strength of China's oil demand on Monday as crude for both August and September delivery each gained 0.7%.
The crude oil contract for August on the Nymex, which is set to expire on Tuesday, gained 53 cents, or 0.7%, to settle at $76.54 a barrel after trading as high as $77.69 a barrel during the session. The more actively traded September delivery contract advanced by 52 cents, or 0.7%, to settle at $76.90 a barrel. September crude breached the $78-a-barrel level at its highest point of $78.10 a barrel.
Markets seemed reluctant to hold gains during Monday's session but held higher to the close of trading as investors unpacked a bevy of earnings data.
Delta Air Lines
reported better-than-expected profits, but fell short of sales estimates.
also surpassed quarterly profit estimates but warned that quarterly results for the rest of the year would be negatively impacted by the deepwater drilling suspension.
"For better or worse, we're tracking the broader financial market, and equities in particular," Gene McGillian, analyst at Tradition Energy, said commenting on crude oil prices at midday. "We charged higher, then we got some disappointing homebuilders data and the market started to lose some ground ... if we continue to see poor housing results
later this week, then it could take the steam out of the gains we've seen."
Oil-related stocks turned in a mixed performance. The NYSE Arca Oil index was shed 0.3%, though the Philadelphia Oil Service Sector index advanced 1.6% on momentum from Halliburton, which said it earned 53 cents a share in the second quarter, thanks in part to a 24% jump in North American revenue. Wall Street analysts had forecast earnings of 36 cents a share. Shares gained 6.1%.
Also affecting energy markets and related equities was news that the Paris-based International Energy Agency anticipates slower oil demand from China next year, according to a
Wall Street Journal
Elsewhere, the ongoing saga that is the
oil spill continued as the White House said the company's new well cap is leaking at the top, and noted seepage two miles away, which the company later said was unrelated to the damaged well.
Last week, the energy sector rallied on news that a cap placed on the gushing well had largely contained the flow of oil, but the stock lost 3.6%, at $35.75 on Monday.
closed down by 7.7% and 4.1%, respectively.
Elsewhere on the Nymex, the August natural gas contract declined by a penny, or 0.2%, to settle at $4.51 per million British thermal units. August heating oil futures gained a penny, or 0.3%, to settle at $2.02 a gallon, while the August gasoline contract was advanced a penny higher, or 0.5%, to settle at $2.06 a gallon.
--Written by Sung Moss and Melinda Peer in New York