Commodity Corner: Oil Soars Past $103

Crude oil for April delivery surged to $103.66 a barrel Friday amid conflicting reports about fighting in Libya.

A high-ranking Libyan government official on Friday claimed a cease-fire following the United Nations' authorization Thursday of military action and a no-fly zone over the North African country. Later in the day, however, rebel forces refuted the official's claim and maintained that they were still battling forces loyal to Libyan ruler Moammar Qaddhafi.

Oil settled at $101.07, a 35-cent decline from Thursday's settlement price. It bottomed out at $100.32 during the late-week session. Compared to Monday's settlement, oil is down 0.1 percent for the week.

April natural gas futures gained a penny following a U.S. Energy Department report Thursday that domestic inventories fell by a larger-than-expected amount last week. Gas settled at $4.17 per thousand cubic feet Friday.

For the week, natural gas is up 6.6 percent. It has been rising as a result of the expected tightening of global LNG supplies; the market anticipates greater Japanese reliance on the fuel for generating electricity.

Natural gas traded within a range from $4.10 to $4.20 Friday.

Front-month gasoline slipped by one cent to $2.95 a gallon. The April contract price fluctuated from $2.92 to $3.00, and it is down 0.3 percent for the week.