Despite shaky equities and a rising dollar, crude futures inched modestly higher Thursday on weather reports of a storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico.
October oil added 12 cents to its final price tag, settling at $88.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil traded as low as $88.21 a barrel after an earlier intraday peak of $89.90.
The National Hurricane Center reported an 80 percent chance that a tropical wave in the Gulf of Mexico could develop into a tropical cyclone within the next 48 hours. Oil majors such as Shell, ExxonMobil, BP, Anadarko and BP have evacuated nine platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and shut in nearly 80,000 barrels of oil production, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. In addition, 127 million cubic feet per day of natural gas was also shut in.
In other forecasts, initial unemployment claims fell by 12,000 to 409,000 last week. Data reported by the Labor Department helped boost optimism about the economy.
Brent crude, which is used to price many international oil varieties, lost 56 cents to settle lower at $114.29 barrel on fresh concerns over Greece's debt problems. The intraday range for Brent was $113.89 to $115.31 a barrel on the ICE future exchange.
Natural gas for October delivery remained unchanged at $4.05 per thousand cubic feet Thursday.
Gasoline gained 1.64 cents for the first trading session for the October contract. Reformulated gasoline settled at $2.89 a gallon. Some East Coast refineries remain shut down due to Hurricane Irene. Prices fluctuated between $2.85 and $2.92 Thursday.
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