Commodity Corner: Ben, Irene Contribute to Volatility

The price of a barrel of light sweet crude oil experienced some volatility Friday before settling at $85.37, or just seven cents day-on-day.

The WTI fell as low as $82.95 after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, speaking at a symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., did not announce any Fed plans to launch a third round of quantitative easing. A "QE3" would be bullish for oil and other commodities because it would weaken the U.S. dollar.

Hurricane Irene's pending arrival along the East Coast did create upward momentum for the benchmark, however. The WTI peaked at $85.64 as investors weighed the possible effects the storm may have on refining infrastructure and gasoline supplies in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

The Brent contract price also settled higher Friday, gaining 74 cents to end the day at $111.36 a barrel. It traded within a range from $109.38 to $111.65.

Despite Irene's potential impact on East Coast fuel supplies, reformulated gasoline lost four cents to settle at $2.93 a gallon. The U.S. Coast Guard's lack of a decision during floor trading to close New York Harbor prevented a bullish outcome Friday.

September gasoline peaked at $2.98 and bottomed out at $2.91 during the pre-storm session.

Natural gas for September delivery settled flat at $3.93 per thousand cubic feet. It fluctuated from $3.90 to $3.96.

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 : $46.65/BBL 1.78%
Light Crude Oil : $44.24/BBL 1.98%
Natural Gas : $3.04/MMBtu 0.33%
Updated in last 24 hours