Commodity Corner: Oil Declines on EIA Report, Stronger Dollar

A higher-than-expected figure in a U.S. Department of Energy report Wednesday contributed to a 61-cent drop in the December oil futures price.

Oil settled at $81.94 after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that U.S. commercial crude oil stocks increased by 5 million barrels last week to 366.2 million barrels. For the corresponding week in 2009, inventories stood at 339.9 million barrels. The figure reported Wednesday was the highest week-on-week gain for the preceding six-week period; the next-highest increase was 3 million b/d reported on October 1.

Also placing downward pressure on the oil price was a stronger dollar, which gained 0.7% against the euro Wednesday.

Crude oil traded within a range from $80.52 to $82.69 Wednesday.

The price of natural gas for November delivery, meanwhile, slipped six cents to settle at $3.29 per thousand cubic feet. The decline occurred amid speculation that the EIA will report a larger-than-anticipated increase in natural gas inventories Thursday.

Natural gas traded from $3.24 to $3.39 Wednesday.

November gasoline futures edged upward by a penny Wednesday, settling at $2.10 a gallon. The gasoline price fluctuated between $2.06 and $2.09.