Crude oil futures continued to rally on the New York Mercantile Exchange Thursday spurred by record snowfalls blanketing the U.S. Mid-Atlantic states, as well as the European Union's pledge to rescue Greece from a financial free fall.
Ahead of tomorrow's EIA oil inventory and gas storage reports, light, sweet crude oil for March delivery posted strong gains during its session, settling to a stronger price of $75.28 a barrel. Government data underscoring domestic stocks were delayed until Friday due to this week's below normal temperatures, which kept Washington under the weather.
Interestingly, oil traders have shrugged off a seemingly bearish 7.2-million-barrel increase in crude inventories forecast by the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday. However, a Dow Jones concensus survey sees crude stockpiles up by 1.3 million barrels in the week to Feb. 5.
Helping to prop up both the commodities and equities markets Thursday, European leaders exited a conference in Brussels with a promise to lift Greece out of an economic mire. The euro was unable to extend its early gains despite the EU's proposed bailout and ultimately fell under pressure against a recovering dollar.
Additionally, the market's optimism was stoked by the Labor Department's data indicating a decline by 43,000 applicants filing for unemployment benefits the previous week.
On the international front, the International Energy Agency raised its forecast for oil demand growth in 2010, which lent some bullish momentum to oil futures.
Also burning bright on the commodities exchange, natural gas spot prices at the Henry Hub for March delivery closed once more in positive territory at $5.40 per thousand cubic feet. Recently under pressure, the domestic energy commodity has seen a slight uplift in commercial buying this week alongside other commodities directly underpinned by the market's broader financial movements.
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