Natural Gas, Crude Oil Prices Continue Slide

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Worries about emerging markets have weighed on equities again Friday, and those same worries are tamping down prices for crude oil and natural gas. WTI crude is down about 0.5% at midday following a jump Thursday of about 0.8%.

Natural gas futures are faring even worse. Gas prices rose sharply on Wednesday only to tumble more than 8% Thursday to close at about $5.01 per thousand cubic feet. The price fell another 5% Friday to around $4.76.

Wednesday’s 10% jump in gas prices was likely due more to the expiration of the February futures contract than to expected demand for natural gas. The weather forecast for the next 10 days indicates warmer temperatures in heavily populated parts of the country.

The slowdown in demand from emerging markets comes as developing markets are faced with a decision on whether to raise interest rates in order to protect their currencies. Rising rates in developing markets, including China, will slow growth it what has been the fastest growing segment of the global economy and is likely to curb demand for oil and other commodities.

Crude supplies are expected to be more than ample this year, so crude prices will be driven by demand, and weaker demand from emerging markets does not spell higher crude prices.

Brent crude traded down nearly 0.6% in the late morning Friday at $107.35. WTI crude traded down about 0.4% at $97.85. Natural gas was trading at $4.78 per million BTUs, down 4.5% Friday.