A litany of bullish news, including a large storm threatening oil production in the Middle East and renewed geopolitical tension between Russia and the West, energized oil futures Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
July light sweet crude soared $1.13 to $66.21 a barrel. Reformulated gasoline remained unchanged at $2.23 a gallon, and heating oil climbed 7 cents to $1.96 a gallon.
Natural gas advanced 31 cents to $8.19 per million British thermal units.
Crude and natural gas prices were lifted by the development of Cyclone Gonu in the Indian Ocean. Gonu is a category 5 storm with 150 mph winds that is expected to reach the Gulf of Oman. The Gulf of Oman is a key shipping lane for oil in the Middle East.
"The strength in last Friday's market had many traders looking for a rally today. Cyclone Gonu gave them a reason to increase their long positions," said Gene McGillian, analyst at TFS Energy Futures.
That natural gas prices rallied with crude suggests traders are increasingly paying attention to summer weather patterns, according to McGillian. "Natural gas has lately been seeing significant resistance at $8.10 per MBTU. It broke through that level today because of expectations of an active hurricane season in the Atlantic," he said.
Also boosting energy prices was the announcement made over the weekend by Russian President Vladimir Putin that his country will re-aim nuclear missiles at European targets if the U.S. goes through with its plan to install a missile defense shield in eastern Europe.
Separately, Russia gave a drilling entity co-managed by
and a private Russian partner a two-week extension on its license to operate in the Kovytka field in Siberia. Russia has made complaints that the partnership's production levels in the field are lower than what is contractually mandated.
The cancellation of the license would be the latest consequence of a policy shift in Russia that has seen energy assets transfer from private companies to government-controlled entities. Russia is becoming an increasingly risky place for foreign energy companies to operate in.
Elsewhere, tensions in Nigeria appear to have tapered off slightly over the weekend. The rebel group MEND, which has played a key role in the instability there in recent months, announced that it is calling off further attacks on oil installations and will participate in negotiations with newly elected president Umaru Yar'Adua. It also released the six remaining hostages under its control.
Meanwhile, energy stocks finished mostly higher. The
CBOE Oil Index
climbed 1.3% to 755.82.
rose 0.7% to $79.41.
gained 1.1% to $83.13, but
was unchanged at $84.22.
Atlas Pipeline Partners
rose 6.4% to $55.05 after saying it will pay $1.85 billion to assume control of
interests in the Chaney Dell and Midkiff/Benedum natural gas gathering and processing systems. Anadarko was up 4.6% to $51.95.
said it's selling its onshore exploration and production operations to
( LTR) and
( XTO) for a combined $6.5 billion. Dominion climbed 0.3% to $87.87.
Harvest Energy Trust
( HTE) was upgraded by BMO Capital Markets to outperform from market perform, lifting its stock 2.5% to $30.44.
Keybanc Capital Markets downgraded shares of
to hold from buy, sending its stock 1.8% lower to $51.65.