Commodity Corner: Oil, Natural Gas Finish Higher



December crude oil finished higher for the sixth consecutive day Monday.

Oil settled at $87.06 a barrel, a 21-cent gain from Friday, as traders contemplated positive U.S. employment numbers. On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department announced that nonfarm private-sector employment increased by 151,000 jobs last month. The country's official 9.6-percent unemployment rate remained unchanged, though.

Also applying upward pressure on the oil futures price was a stronger dollar. The euro lost ground to the greenback amid market concerns about mounting sovereign debt problems in Ireland, Spain, and Portugal.

Crude oil traded from $85.96 to $87.49.

For the second time in as many weeks, front-month natural gas settled above the $4.00 mark--$4.09 per thousand cubic feet, to be exact. Despite an ongoing high-inventory environment, predictions of below-normal temperatures in the Northeast spurred speculation that demand for gas-fired electricity will increase over the next two weeks.

Natural gas for December delivery peaked at $4.10 and bottomed out at $3.94.

December gasoline remained flat at $2.18 a gallon Monday. It traded within a range from $2.15 to $2.19.