Commodity Corner: Mfg. Data Stoke Oil Demand Fears

The September contract price for light sweet crude oil settled at $94.89 a barrel Monday. The WTI traded within a range from $93.42 to $98.60.

The 81-cent day-on-day loss followed the release of disappointing July manufacturing figures by the Institute of Supply Management (ISM). ISM, which bases its findings on surveys of manufacturing supply managers, reported that the U.S. manufacturing sector expanded at a slower rate in July. The organization's closely monitored Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) fell from 55.3 to 50.9 from June to July; a value above 50 generally means that the manufacturing sector is expanding.

"Production and employment also showed continued growth in July, but at slower rates than in June," ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee Chair Bradley J. Holcomb said in written statement. "The New Orders Index registered 49.2 percent, indicating contraction for the first time since June of 2009, when it registered 48.9 percent." Holcomb also pointed out that export sales were very strong and domestic sales were sluggish last month.

Brent futures edged upward Monday, gaining seven cents to settle at $116.81 a barrel. The Brent contract price peaked at $119.95 and bottomed out at $114.86.

Weather forecast models are projecting above-normal temperatures throughout the eastern half of the U.S. through the middle of next week, and cooling demand is expected to increase as a result. September natural gas gained 4.3 cents to end the day at $4.19 per thousand cubic feet.

A new weather system in the Caribbean could also have an effect on natural gas prices over the next several days. The National Hurricane Center in Miami reported Monday afternoon that a "vigorous" tropical wave has formed near the Lesser Antilles and will likely to develop into a tropical cyclone by the middle of the week. The system, which was moving west-northwestward at 15 to 20 miles per hour at 2 p.m. EDT Monday, would be named Emily if it strengthens into a tropical storm.

September natural gas traded within a range from $4.13 to $4.20 Monday.

Gasoline for September delivery lost a penny Monday to settle at $3.05 a gallon after fluctuating from just under $3.01 to $3.145. The August contract, which expired Friday, settled at $3.11.