Commodity Corner: Oil Reverses Course

May oil futures rose for the first time this week Wednesday, gaining 86 cents to settle at $107.11 a barrel.

The midweek bounce followed a U.S. Department of Energy report showing the country's commercial stocks of crude oil increased last week at a level within the bounds of what analysts had predicted. The department's Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday that inventories increased by 1.6 million barrels last week to 359.3 million barrels.

May gasoline also surged Wednesday, jumping eight cents to end the day at $3.24 a gallon, after EIA revealed that total U.S. stocks of the oil product fell last week. According to EIA, the 3.2-percent week-on-week decline brought gasoline inventories to 209.7 million barrels. For the corresponding period in 2010, stocks stood at 221.3 million barrels.

EIA figures show that gasoline stocks have fallen by nearly 11 percent since February 25, 2011. On Wednesday, gasoline traded within a range from $3.16 to $3.24.

Natural gas for May delivery also increased Wednesday, gaining six cents to settle at $4.14 per thousand cubic feet. The commodity peaked at $4.18 and bottomed out at $4.075.

Matthew V. Veazey has written about the oil and gas industry since 2000. Email Matthew at mveazey@rigzone.com

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Brent Crude Oil : $45.83/BBL 0.63%
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Natural Gas : $3.03/MMBtu 3.44%
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