Commodity Corner: WTI, Brent Futures Plummet

On the first trading day after Standard & Poor's downgraded the United States' long-term credit rating from AAA to AA+, the WTI settled at its lowest point in nearly nine months.

Light sweet crude oil lost $5.57 to end the day at $81.31 a barrel—just six cents higher than the Nov. 23, 2010, settlement price. Concerns that the U.S. is slipping into a double-dip recession have dampened expectations about oil demand. Equity markets also sustained significant losses Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 5.55 percent while the S&P 500 declined nearly 6.7 percent.

The Brent futures price also plunged Monday but to a somewhat more modest degree than the WTI. It ended the day at $103.47, marking a $5.63 decline from Friday.

The WTI peaked at $85.73 and bottomed out at $80.17 while the Brent traded within a range from $102.88 to $106.92.

Also reflecting fears about slumping demand was the price of gasoline for September delivery, which lost 4.1 percent to end the day at $2.69 a gallon. Front-month gasoline traded within a range from $2.80 to $2.67 Monday.

September natural gas remained relatively steady Monday, losing less than one cent to settle at $3.935 per thousand cubic feet. Natural gas peaked at $3.97 and bottomed out at $3.855.