Commodity Corner: Crude Declines on China's Benchmark Boost

Oil futures retreated from 30-month highs Tuesday but stayed above $108 a barrel.

Light, sweet crude lost 13 cents to settle at $108.47 a barrel Tuesday, after fluctuating from $107.50 to $108.60. Futures inched downward after the People's Bank of China increased interest rates. The monetary action marks China's fourth attempt to curb inflation since October. After the U.S., China is the world's largest oil consumer.

However, the continued turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa region has kept investors weary of supply disruptions. Analysts believe the market becomes bullish every time Gadhafi supporters have an advantage and bearish every time the rebels have the upper hand.

May natural gas continued to decline for the third day Tuesday on milder temperatures in the U.S. According to analysts, the market has realized that the cold season has come to an end, thus reducing demand for heating fuel during this "shoulder" season. Traders await warmer summer months when the demand increases to power air conditioning. After trading between $4.22 and $4.32, natural gas for Tuesday settled at $4.231 per thousand cubic feet.

Gasoline for May delivery rose 3.25 cents to end Tuesday's trading session at $3.20 a gallon. The intraday range was $3.15 to $3.21.


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