Equities markets rallied Friday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke offered assurances that the U.S. central bank would take aggressive steps if necessary to counteract deflation. Front-month crude oil, as it has done on a seemingly regular basis regularly, followed the lead of equities. In fact, Friday's rally enabled oil to end the week nearly 3% higher.
The price of a barrel of crude oil for October delivery rose $1.81 to settle at $75.17 Friday. Speaking at a Federal Reserve symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Bernanke said that he expects modest economic expansion for the remainder of this year and stronger growth in 2011. Should the situation grow worse and disinflation become a greater threat, however, he pointed out that the Fed has a number of "tools" at its disposal to stimulate the economy. Bernanke's comments apparently buoyed equities traders; The Dow Jones Industrials, S&P 500, and Nasdaq indexes had each increased by 1.7% as of 4 p.m. EDT Friday.
The intraday range for crude oil was $72.04 to $74.44. Oil is up $2.07 for the week.
The September natural gas futures price prolonged its downward trend by another day Friday, settling 17 cents lower at $3.65 per thousand cubic feet. Gas traded between $3.61 and $3.85 and is down 42 cents for the week.
September gasoline futures gained four cents to settle at $1.95 a gallon Friday. The futures price fluctuated between $1.88 and $1.93. Gasoline ended the week flat.
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