Closing the month in negative territory, U.S. crude oil futures extended losses below $73 on the New York Mercantile Exchange Friday as still-lackluster demand, bloated inventories and a triumphant greenback continued to put pressure on the energy commodity.
Down 75 cents from yesterday's final price tag, the price of light, sweet crude oil for March delivery ultimately settled at $72.89 a barrel. Friday's session wraps up a month of peak highs and lows for crude's current trading range between $70-$80, but today's lower settlement underscores the biggest monthly percentage loss for oil prices since December 2008.
Furthermore, the Reuters-Jefferies CRB index .CRB, which tracks prices spanning 19 futures markets, shed 6% for the month of January, its worst performance since November 2008 when the index ended down nearly 10%.
According a Reuters report, the U.S. economy grew at a faster-than-expected pace during the fourth quarter by 5.7%, or the most accelerated pace in more than six years. The encouraging news renewed safe-haven demand for the U.S. currency.
Despite the day's positive economic news signaling a recovering economy on the domestic front, concerns over China's credit clampdown at its banking institutions and rising U.S. fuel supplies helped spur further sell off in energy commodities.
On the opposite side of the energy coin, natural gas spot prices at the Henry Hub for March delivery also booked a loss on the NYMEX ahead of the weekend, paring down to $5.131 per thousand cubic feet.
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