Commodity Corner: Oil Declines on Weekly EIA Data

Front-month crude oil declined Wednesday after the U.S. Department of Energy reported that total domestic crude inventories rose by 0.7 percent last week.

Oil for April delivery ended the midweek session at $104.38 a barrel, a 64-cent decline from Tuesday. The DOE's Energy Information Administration reported that total U.S. crude stocks rose by more than 2.5 million barrels to 348.9 million barrels last week. The inventory increase was higher than what analysts had been expecting; a Platts survey, for instance, predicted a more modest 2.3 million-barrel build.

Oil traded within a range from $104.07 to $105.92 Wednesday.

The natural gas futures price rose by seven cents Wednesday as investors evidently took advantage of a buying opportunity. April natural gas, which has declined recently as wintry conditions give way to milder weather throughout much of the Midwest and Northeast, ended the day at $3.93 per thousand cubic feet.

Natural gas peaked at $3.94 and bottomed out at $3.84 during the session.

April gasoline gained eight cents to settle at $3.03 a gallon. It fluctuated from $2.93 to $3.03 Wednesday.