Commodity Corner: Oil Hits Another High



Front-month crude oil settled at its highest point in nearly 32 months Friday, ending the day at $112.79 a barrel.

Oil futures surged 2.3 percent amid fears that the global oil supply will tighten, thanks in part to pessimism about any near-term resolution to the Libyan conflict. Moreover, investors are wary about fighting in other major oil-producing countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Also pressuring oil upward was a weaker dollar, which fell 0.9 percent against the euro Friday. Oil and other commodities priced in dollars become a better value for those holding other currencies when the euro strengthens against the dollar. On Thursday the European Central Bank decided to raise interest rates by 0.25% in an effort to curb inflation. The dollar has grown weaker recently given the improbability that the Federal Reserve will enact similar measures to tighten U.S. monetary policy.

Crude oil fluctuated from $110.11 to $112.75 during Friday's trading. Since last Friday, oil has gained 4.5 percent.

A milder, more springlike weather forecast for much of the Upper Midwest and Northeast once again contributed to a decrease in natural gas futures Friday. May natural gas settled two cents lower to end the day at $4.04 per thousand cubic feet.

Natural gas traded within a range from $4.01 to $4.08. For the week, it is down 7.3 percent.

May gasoline gained seven cents to settle at $3.26 a gallon. During Friday's session, gasoline peaked at $3.25 and bottomed out at $3.18. Front-month gasoline is up 3.5 percent for the week.