Sunday, August 27, 2006

Storm Ernesto approaches hurricane force

Oil and natural-gas futures gain on hurricane threat

Myra P. Saefong & Wanfeng Zhou
MarketWatch - 4:57 AM ET Aug 27, 2006

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Tropical Storm Ernesto could soon develop into the first hurricane of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season, as the National Hurricane Center issued tropical-storm warnings for the south coast of the Dominican Republic and maintained hurricane watches for Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Guantanamo in eastern Cuba.

At 2 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time, the storm was centered about 130 miles (215 kilometers) south-southwest of Port au Prince, Haiti, and about 285 miles east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, the NHC said. Maximum sustained winds were 60 miles an hour, and the storm was moving west-northwest at 9 mph. A Category 1 hurricane's winds are at least 74 mph.

A tropical storm warning means the NHC expects tropical-storm conditions within the warning area within 12 to 24 hours. The hurricane watch means the storm could reach hurricane force within 36 hours.

"If the storm intensifies over the weekend, Sunday night's electronic trade could open sharply higher," said Kevin Kerr, editor of Global Resources Trader, a newsletter of MarketWatch, the publisher of this report.

Crude-oil futures closed modestly higher Friday, but natural-gas prices scored a gain of more than 6% for the week as forecasters predicted that a tropical storm in the Caribbean has the potential to threaten the Gulf of Mexico and disrupt energy production.

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People in this hurricane's path, please don't take any chances. If you can't leave the area, find good shelter. Prepare yourselves for the worst.