Commodity Corner: Oil Settles Below $100

Crude oil for June delivery plummeted more than eight percent Thursday and settled below $100 for the first time since March 16.

The commodity settled at $99.80 a barrel, a $9.44 decline from Wednesday. The sharp drop stems from a stronger U.S. dollar and concerns about economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the U.S., the federal Department of Labor announced that first-time claims for jobless benefits increased last week by just under 10 percent to 474,000. Meanwhile, Germany's Ministry of Economics and Technology announced that the country's factory orders fell by four percent in March—a dramatic shift from a two-month growth trend. Crude oil traded within a range from $98.25 to $109.38 Thursday.

The price of June natural gas also followed a downward slope Thursday, losing nearly 32 cents to settle at $4.26 per thousand cubic feet. Driving the decline was the U.S. Energy Information Administration's weekly report on natural gas inventories.

According to the EIA, working gas in underground storage rose to 1,757 billion cubic feet as of last Friday. The 72-Bcf week-on-week increase was higher than expected; analysts surveyed by Platts, for instance, had predicted a more modest build of 64 to 68 Bcf for the period.

Front-month natural gas peaked at $4.57 and bottomed out at $4.25 Thursday.

Gasoline also ended the day lower, falling 23 cents to settle at $3.095. June gasoline fluctuated from $3.335 to $3.06.