Commodity Corner: WTI Loses 2.5% on Jobs Data

Following the release of anemic U.S. employment growth figures Friday, the price of light sweet crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 2.5 percent to end the day at $96.20 a barrel.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported a slight increase in non-farm payrolls for June: a net gain of only 18,000 non-farm payrolls. The figure is based on the addition of 57,000 private-sector jobs offset by a 39,000-job reduction by local, state, and federal governments during the period.

The net gain for June was far lower than what economists had expected. For instance, Bloomberg reported that its survey of economists anticipated 105,000 additional jobs under the most bearish scenario. Dampening the outlook for crude oil demand further, the Labor Department also reported that the national unemployment rate for June rose to 9.2 percent—a 0.1 percentage point increase from the previous month.

The WTI traded within a range from $95.60 to $99.18 Friday. The Brent futures contract on the IntercontinentalExchange lost 26 cents to settle at $118.33. The Brent price fluctuated from $117.18 to $119.79.

Natural gas futures ended the day higher, settling at $4.205 per thousand cubic feet. The 6.5-cent increase in the August contract price stems from weather forecast models anticipating above-normal temperatures from the Southwest to the Northeast well into next week.

Front-month natural gas peaked at $4.21 and bottomed out at $4.12.

Gasoline for August delivery settled at $3.09 a gallon. The contract price fluctuated from $3.07 to $3.13.