NYMEX crude oil futures ended near unchanged Monday, erasing earlier gains tied to Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Naimi's comments that OPEC 's decision to reduce output would depend on both supply and demand in the group's quest to keep prices at around $25, according to News Agencies.
Apr crude ended down 1 cent at $28.00 a barrel, off its high of $28.24, but above the day's early low, at $27.67. Apr heating oil ended up 39 points at 73.30c a gallon, while Apr gasoline ended up 61 points at 89.40c a gallon.
Crude had declined in early trade, then struggled to capitalize on a handful of supportive technical factors ahead of OPEC's meet, and on concerns a power snag and sulfur dioxide release at the Rohm & Haas chemical plant in Deer Park, Texas could have impacted operations at Shell's key refinery nearby.
The brief rally moved prices through nearby support levels at $27.70 and $28.00 to a high of $28.12, but later retreated as Rohm & Haas sounded the "all clear" at 1210 ET and as Shell confirmed that its 280,000-barrel-per-day refinery was not impacted by the incident, reported Bridge News.
The midday news of Naimi's comments, following a meeting in Riyadh between Naimi, Venezuela's Oil Minister Alvaro Silva and non-OPEC Mexico's Oil Minister Ernesto Martens, then caused another rebound, pushing crude to $28.24.
The news confirmed most players' assumptions that OPEC would decide at its full ministerial meeting scheduled on Friday to reduce output, wrote Bridge News.
According to Bridge News, the market pulled back ahead of the close, to end near-unchanged, once participants had a chance to absorb the news.
Players said they began to consider whether the $25 level Naimi spoke of was merely a reaffirmation of the center of OPEC's $22-28 price band, rather than a new price goal, a nuance that is considered less supportive for the market.
Brokers continue to peg support for Apr crude at around the $27.60-27.70 level, with underlying support at $27.40-27.50. Upside technical resistance is seen upwards of $28.00, as well as at $29.00-29.05.
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