VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Crude-oil futures hit a new low for the year on Friday, following a tumble the day before, as traders focused on the bearish aspects of conflicting market trends.
Vienna-based PVM Oil Associates said Friday that ''high stocks and warmer weather forecasts for the U.S. dragged down all Nymex contracts.''
Light sweet crude for December delivery, whose contract expires Friday, was down 75 cents to $55.51 a barrel in electronic trading on the Nymex by midday in Europe. January Brent on London's ICE Futures exchange was down 52 cents to $58.02 a barrel.
The price of oil sank more than $2 a barrel Thursday as markets weighed mixed signals such as OPEC cutting output and a slowing U.S. economy and the approach of winter, but a report that shows the U.S. has an abundance of home heating fuels.
These mixed signals help explain why crude futures have settled in a range roughly between $57 and $61 since the beginning of October.
Many analysts still remain bullish in their outlooks, citing concerns about instability in Nigeria and Iraq, a recent drop in U.S. refinery output and trading patterns that suggest the market is preparing for a late-year upswing.
''Now with OPEC already talking another production cut and the extremely strong demand we should soon pressure the upside of our current trading range,'' Phil Flynn, an analyst at Alaron Trading Corp., told Dow Jones Newswires. ''And to break out we will need just one little bullish story to get the complex rolling.''
Heating oil futures fell 1.55 cent to $1.6450 a gallon on the Nymex, while gasoline futures were down a cent to $1.5200 a gallon. Natural gas futures fell 3 cents to $7.725 per 1,000 cubic feet.