Commodity Corner: Oil, Natural Gas Settle Lower

The price of crude oil for January delivery fell by 92 cents Thursday to settle at $87.70 a barrel.

Traders evidently took the profit-taking route after being caught off-guard Wednesday by a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) report showing a much steeper decline in crude oil inventories last week compared to what analysts had expected. In addition, the dollar's 0.05-percent increase against the euro added to Thursday's bearish sentiment.

Oil traded within a range from $87.84 to $88.65 during the day's session.

Natural gas futures declined four percent Thursday, settling at $4.05 per thousand cubic feet. Releasing its weekly natural gas storage figures, the DOE announced that working gas in underground storage fell 164 billion cubic feet (Bcf) to 3,561 Bcf last week. The decline was within analysts' expectations, and inventories are 9.9 percent higher than the five-year (2005-2009) average.

Front-month natural gas fluctuated from $4.03 to $4.24 Thursday.

Gasoline for January delivery edged downward, settling a penny lower at $2.30 a gallon. During Thursday's trading, gasoline peaked at $2.33 and bottomed out at $2.30.