Commodity Corner: Oil Gains on Positive Economy Outlook

Light, sweet crude soared Tuesday on positive U.S. housing data and hope that the European debt crisis may soon be resolved.

Oil futures gained $1.57 Tuesday after the U.S. Commerce Department reported a surge in housing starts. According to data, June housing starts jumped 14.6 percent to a five-month high. An increase in housing starts represents an improvement in the economy.

However, analysts anticipate markets to remain restless until a Thursday meeting, during which European officials will discuss an additional bailout for Greece.

President Barack Obama released a statement Tuesday indicating some progress on U.S. debt-ceiling talks. Consequently, the euro rose higher against the greenback. Measuring the dollar against major foreign currencies, the dollar index edged lower Tuesday.

After fluctuating between $95.93 and $98.65, crude for August delivery settled at $97.50 a barrel, up $1.57. Likewise, its European counterpart gained $1.01 to settle at $117.06 a barrel. The intraday range for September Brent crude was $116.09 to $118.45 a barrel.

In other NYMEX trading, August natural gas lost 2 cents to end Tuesday's trading session at $4.511 per gallon. Meanwhile, front-month reformulated gasoline blendstock (RBOB) rose 0.6 percent, settling at $3.11 a gallon. Prices traded between $3.10 and $3.15 Tuesday.