Crude dropped for the third day Tuesday amid a backdrop of lingering concerns about the European debt crises and the two Koreas' shelling exchange.
Light, sweet crude futures fell 49 cents, settling at $81.25 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil tumbled 0.6 percent Tuesday, a day after Ireland sought a financial bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's comments that the euro is in an "exceptionally serious" situation added to the European debt fears, sending the dollar up against the euro. A stronger dollar curbs commodities' appeal for buyers with foreign currencies.
Escalating tensions between North and South Korea also contributed to decreasing prices. North and South Korea's exchange of artillery fire early Tuesday drove investors to seek refuge from riskier assets, according to analysts.
The intraday range for crude prices was $80.28 to $82.10 Tuesday.
Natural gas for December delivery fell by less than a penny Tuesday to settle at $4.26 per thousand cubic feet. The decline came as forecasts showed milder weather in the U.S. The National Weather Service now expects normal to above-normal temperatures in the Northeast for the next six-to-10 days.
The December contract for natural gas expires Wednesday, along with the release of this week's inventory report. It will be released a day earlier due to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.
Henry Hub natural gas peaked at $4.29 and bottomed out at $4.115.
Front-month December gasoline also settled lower, falling 1.77 cents to end Tuesday's trading session at $2.13 a gallon. RBOB gasoline fluctuated between $2.10 and $2.15 Tuesday.
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