Crude settled up Thursday as the dollar tumbled against foreign currencies on speculation of the Federal Reserve's plan to stimulate the economy.
Oil for December delivery rose 24 cents to settle at $82.18 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. For the past week, crude futures have been trading between $80 and $83 a barrel. Analysts predict traders and investors are anxiously awaiting next week's Fed meeting and midterm elections.
Analysts speculate that the Federal Reserve will partake in quantitative easing, or curbing the currency's value by purchasing government debt, in an effort to stimulate the economy. The possible impact from next week's decision has caused the dollar to drop against other currencies. The greenback fell 1.1% against the euro Thursday. As the dollar loses value, commodities become more affordable for buyers with other currencies.
Additionally, first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell to a three-month low last week. For the week ending Oct. 23, seasonally adjusted initial claims were 434,000, a drop of 21,000 from the previous week.
The intraday range for crude was $ 81.50 to $ 82.64 Thursday.
Natural gas futures rose Thursday as forecasts predicted cooler weather for next week, suggesting increased demand for gas-fired electricity. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted temperatures will fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit along the East Coast and across the Gulf Coast next week.
Although the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that natural gas stockpiles grew by 71 billion cubic feet last week, prices rebounded following the release of the data.
Henry Hub natural gas for December delivery ended Thursday's trading session at $3.89 per thousand cubic feet. It peaked at $3.92 and bottomed out at $3.66.
Front-month November gasoline settled a penny higher Thursday, ending the day at $2.11 a gallon. RBOB gasoline fluctuated between $2.10 and $2.13.
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