The crude oil futures price for September delivery slipped Wednesday after a federal government report showed that U.S. oil stockpiles rose last week.
Oil settled at $76.56 a barrel, a 98-cent decline from Tuesday, after the Energy Information Administration reported a 0.4 million-bbl increase for the week ending July 17. According the EIA, the 353.5 million bbl of U.S. commercial crude oil inventories exceed the upper limit for the average range for this time of year. Also contributing to the downward pressure on oil were comments made by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The country's top central banker, speaking before the Senate Banking Committee Wednesday, commented that the U.S. economic outlook continues to be "unusually uncertain." The oil futures price traded from $76.59 to $78.57.
Natural gas also had an off day Wednesday, declining 8 cents to a settlement price of $4.51 per thousand cubic feet. The drop stems from traders' concerns that more EIA data that will be released Thursday. There are expectations that the agency's weekly report on natural gas inventories will show that too much gas is being produced relative to demand. The August natural gas futures price ranged from $4.49 to $4.66.
August gasoline futures declined to $2.07 a gallon, a one-cent change from Tuesday. The front-month contract price fluctuated from $2.06 to $2.11.
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