Commodity Corner: Oil Tops $111 a Barrel

Crude futures soared Wednesday to settle above $111 a barrel. The 2.9 percent jump came on government data showing a decrease in U.S. crude stockpiles and a weaker dollar.

Crude prices settled up at $111.45 a barrel Wednesday, marking the first trading session for the June contract. In its weekly inventory report, the U.S. Energy Department reported that oil inventories fell by 2.3 million barrels last week. Analysts, on the other hand, were expecting an increase in supplies.

Meanwhile, the dollar continued to decline Wednesday against major and emerging market currencies speculating that U.S. interest rates would remain at record lows. The euro soared to a 15-month high against the dollar, while the Australian dollar surged to its highest since 1983. Due to the recent increase in interest rates in Europe and Asia, the greenback has been facing tremendous pressure.

The intraday range for light, sweet crude was $107.96 to $111.66 a barrel.

Front-month futures for natural gas also rose Wednesday, settling at $4.31 per thousand cubic feet. Natural gas prices peaked at $4.34, before bottoming out at $4.27 Wednesday. The Energy Information Administration's (EIA) weekly natural gas storage data is scheduled to be released early Thursday morning.

May gasoline gained almost 4 cents, ending Wednesday's trading session at $3.277 a gallon. Analysts predict gas prices to increase once driving demand picks up for the summer. According to the U.S. Transportation Department, U.S. highway miles driven increased by 0.9 percent in February compared to the previous year. Prices fluctuated between $3.23 and $3.28 Wednesday.