Commodity Corner: Oil Nears $89 Monday

A mix of good news and bad news helped crude oil to settle 0.9 percent higher Monday.

January oil futures ended the day at $88.81 a barrel, a 79-cent gain from Friday. Optimism that U.S. economic growth will accelerate next year contributed to the increase.

Oil's advance also stems from Sunday's fatal oil pipeline explosion in Mexico's Puebla state. Pemex suspects that the event may have been caused by an illegal tap inserted into the pipeline by thieves to steal crude oil. Nearly 30 individuals perished in the blast.

Also giving oil a boost were rising gasoline futures. Gasoline for January delivery gained six cents to settle at $2.38 a gallon after HOVENSA announced it is delaying the start-up of the fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit at its 500,000-b/d refinery on St. Croix. The FCC unit at the U.S. Virgin Islands refinery has been down for more than a week.

Oil traded within a range from $87.26 to $88.98 Monday. Gasoline peaked at $2.38 and bottomed out at $2.32.

Thanks to a National Weather Service prediction of below-normal temperatures next week throughout the Northeast and Great Lakes regions, front-month natural gas surged 17 cents to settle at $4.24 per thousand cubic feet.

January natural gas fluctuated from $4.01 to $4.25 Monday.