Commodity Corner: Oil Falls; Natural Gas Holds On



Crude oil for March delivery settled at $86.71 a barrel Wednesday.

The midweek 23-cent decline in oil futures followed the U.S. Department of Energy's weekly report of commercial crude inventories. According to the DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA), oil stocks rose by 1.9 million barrels last week to 345.1 million barrels.

Front-month crude fluctuated from $86.53 to $87.95 during Wednesday's trading.

March natural gas futures remained unchanged Wednesday, settling at $4.04 for the second consecutive day. Predictions of milder weather for much of the U.S. appeared to balance out analysts' expectations that EIA would announce an above-normal drop in inventories when it releases its weekly natural gas storage report Thursday.

Natural gas peaked at $4.08 and bottomed out at $3.99 Wednesday.

Gasoline for March delivery gained four cents to end the day at $2.53 a gallon. It traded within a range from $2.48 to $2.53.