Commodity Corner: Oil Surges Past $108

Crude oil for May delivery settled at $108.47 a barrel Monday, boosted by strife in Libya and elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East.

Oil's 54-cent gain Monday stems largely from the ongoing civil war in Libya, where rebel forces have rejected a cease-fire offer from Colonel Gadhaffi's government. The rebels also have made progress in recapturing the important eastern city of Brega, home to a refinery and oil terminal, from loyalist forces.

Also supporting crude oil Monday was optimism about the U.S. economy's growth prospects. Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor stated that nonfarm payroll employment increased by an unexpectedly strong 216,000 in March and that the unemployment rate had fallen to 8.8 percent.

May crude fluctuated from $107.58 to $108.78 during Monday's trading.

Front-month natural gas remained on a down slope for the second consecutive day Monday, sliding seven cents to settle at $4.29 per thousand cubic feet. Milder, more springlike temperatures have been moving into the Northeast, lessening the demand for gas-fired heating in the region.

May natural gas traded within a range from $4.23 to $4.36 Monday.

The May gasoline contract price edged upward two cents to end the day at $3.17 a gallon. Gasoline peaked at $3.18 and bottomed out at $3.14.