Late Selling Hits Crude Oil - TheStreet

Late Selling Hits Crude Oil

Oil reaches $75 a barrel early, but pulls back.
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Crude oil futures moved in step with gasoline futures on Tuesday, jumping sharply higher in early trading and then retreating late in the day.

Light sweet crude was 12 cents lower at $74.03 a barrel in the late afternoon. Reformulated gasoline edged 3 cents lower to $2.12 a gallon, and heating oil remained unchanged at $2.05 a gallon.

The near-term natural gas contract dipped 7 cents to $6.30 per million British thermal units.

Gasoline futures made an upside run to $2.17 early in the session. Crude followed, briefly breaking through the $75 level. However, neither could fend off late-day bearish traders.

The session marked the sixth straight decline for gasoline futures. Higher refinery runs and gasoline inventories are the suspected culprits of the weak gasoline market, according to Edward Meir, analyst at Man Financial.

"There is no particular reason behind the sharp decline in cracks and product prices,

particularly gasoline, but the thinking is that in the wake of a number of restarts and rising product inventories, many of the cracks were overdone and thus sold into," Meir wrote in an analyst note.

Meanwhile, energy stocks fell along with futures prices. The

CBOE Oil Index

was fractionally lower at 804.98.

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get Report

fell 1% to $86.26, and

Chevron

(CVX) - Get Report

was down 0.75% to $91.46.

Among analyst actions, HSBC Securities downgraded

Peabody Energy

(BTU) - Get Report

to neutral from overweight and

Consol Energy

(CNX) - Get Report

to underweight from neutral. Peabody dropped 2.8% to $46.74, and Consol lost 2.6% to $47.36.

Carrizo Oil & Gas

(CRZO) - Get Report

was downgraded by Jefferies & Co. to hold from buy, sending its shares 0.8% lower to $39.32.