Commodity Corner: Oil Settles Higher on Bullish Stocks Data

The price of light sweet crude oil gained 64 cents Wednesday to settle at $98.14 a barrel on news of a larger-than-expected drop in U.S. oil stocks. The Brent benchmark gained $1.09 to end the day at $118.15 a barrel.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday that the country's commercial crude oil inventories fell nearly 1.1 percent last week to 351.7 million barrels. The 3.8 million-barrel draw was well above analysts' expectations. For instance, a Platts survey of analysts projected a draw of only 1.3 million barrels.

WTI futures fluctuated from $96.80 to $99.02 during Wednesday's session. The Brent contract peaked at $118.56 and bottomed out at $117.06.

Americans from the Upper Midwest to the South to the East Coast are seeking air-conditioned relief from high heat and humidity. Triple-digit heat indices are common throughout the eastern half of the country, and such conditions are expected to continue into next week. In spite of the sweltering heat, natural gas futures edged downward Wednesday to $4.50 per thousand cubic feet.

Front-month natural gas traded within a range from $4.43 to $4.60.

Gasoline futures ended the day higher at $3.15 a gallon—the intraday high. The intraday low for gasoline was $3.10.