July crude oil futures settled 55 cents higher Tuesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke expressed confidence that the U.S. economy is not headed for another recession.
Bernanke acknowledged that the recovery "won't feel terrific" and conceded that the country's high jobless rate will not decline quickly, but during a televised interview he offered his "best guess" that economic growth will continue. The assurances of the Fed Chairman, who also contends the recovery likely began last summer, were enough to help propel oil's settlement price to $71.99. Crude oil traded from $70.75 to $72.40 Tuesday.
Natural gas reversed recent gains Tuesday, settling nine cents lower at $4.81. Predictions of moderating temperatures throughout a large portion of the U.S., along with profit-taking by traders wishing to capitalize on recent price increases, applied downward pressure to gas prices. The July gas futures contract hit a high of $4.99 and a low of $4.75 during floor trading.
For the second consecutive day, the futures price for gasoline settled at $1.99. The intraday trading range was $1.97 to $2.01.
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