September crude oil futures closed off a down week at $75.39 a barrel amid less-than-stellar news about the direction of the U.S. economy.
Friday's settlement price is $6.09 lower than Monday's price and marks a 35-cent decrease from the previous day. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on Friday was the bearer of retail sales data that left traders unimpressed. Locke reported that retail sales rose in July, following back-to-back declines the two previous months, but only by a meager 0.4%. According to the Commerce Department, the increase matched the expectations of private-sector analysts. Motor vehicle sales increased by a more robust 1.6%, and sales excluding automotive dealers showed a slight 0.2% gain.
"Today's increase in retail sales shows that overall economic activity is still growing, although at a more modest pace than we would like," said Locke.
Crude oil traded from $75.05 to $76.74 Friday.
Natural gas remained virtually flat for the week. Settling at $4.33 per thousand cubic feet Friday, the September futures price gained just two cents overall for the five-day period. The intraday trading range Friday for natural gas was from $4.27 to $4.33.
The front-month gasoline futures price lost a penny Friday, settling at $1.94 a gallon after fluctuating from $1.93 to $1.96. Gasoline is down 8.5% for the week, having settled at $2.12 on Monday.
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