Commodity Corner: Crude Declines ahead of Inventory Data

Crude futures dropped Wednesday on thinned trading volume and ahead of Thursday's U.S. oil inventory reports. The U.S. Energy Department will release its weekly report at 11 a.m. Thursday in Washingtona day later due to the Christmas holiday.

Front-month crude fell 37 cents to end at $91.12 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). As a result of harsh weather conditions in New York and the year-end holidays, crude prices have fluctuated between $90 and $92 this week. The snow storm has hampered regular holiday trading. Oil prices were also affected by Tuesday's U.S. government reports. According to government data, both consumer confidence and home values have declined.

Crude for February delivery traded Wednesday between $90.80 and $91.53.

Meanwhile, natural gas futures remained almost unchanged Wednesday on forecasts of moderate temperatures. Consistent weather changes have created a lot of uncertainty amongst traders. Due to large stockpiles, analysts predict it'll take a lot more than cooler temperatures for prices to go up. Investors await tomorrow's Energy Information Administration's weekly inventory report.

Natural gas declined 0.1 cent Wednesday settling at $4.287 per thousand cubic feet on its first day for February's contract. The intraday range for natural gas was $4.21 to $4.31.

Similarly, gasoline futures also declined Wednesday, settling at $2.39 a gallon. The 1.52-cent loss came after fluctuating between $2.387 and $2.412 .