Commodity Corner: Oil Soars Past $101 a Barrel



Oil prices rose 1.2 percent Thursday as investors continued to speculate after OPEC's Wednesday meeting.

For the first time in almost 20 years, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was unable to reach a consensus on output quotas. The decision-divide, on whether to increase production or not, pushed prices past the $100-mark. Oil futures for July delivery gained $1.19 a barrel to settle at $101.93 Thursday.

The International Energy Agency, which advises some of the wealthiest nations on energy policies, said it was "disappointed" with OPEC's decision and was "ready to work with its member governments and others to help ensure that markets are well supplied."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Energy Department reported that 4.8 million barrels fell last week, the biggest decline of the year. Additionally, the Labor Department reported 427,000 jobless claims for this week, a thousand more than the previous week.

The intraday range for oil was $100.74 to $102.44 a barrel.

Futures for front-month natural gas plunged Thursday, settling at $4.674 per thousand cubic feet. The 3.6 percent-drop came on reports of above-average inventories. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), last week's supplies were at 2.187 trillion cubic feet, up 80 billion cubic feet. Prices for natural gas traded between $4.51 and $4.98 Thursday.

Gasoline increased by 6.11 cents settling at $3.04 a gallon. Gasoline futures fluctuated between $2.97 and $3.05.