Commodity Corner: WTI, Brent Rebound

Light sweet crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange rebounded Wednesday after the U.S. Department of Energy reported that inventories fell last week, catching investors off-guard.

The September WTI contract price gained $3.59 to settle at $82.89 a barrel. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced that commercial crude stocks declined by 5.2 million barrels last week to 349.8 million barrels. The 1.5-percent week-on-week draw starkly contrasted to the prediction of a Platts survey of analysts: a 1.8 million-barrel build for the period.

Brent futures also surged Wednesday, settling $4.11 higher at $106.68 a barrel. The WTI traded within a range from $79.53 to $82.90. The contract price for Brent fluctuated from $103.47 to $106.55.

EIA also reported Wednesday that reformulated gasoline inventories declined by a larger-than-expected volume last week: 1.6 million barrels. The 213.6 million barrel EIA figure for the week ending August 5, 2011, was 400,000 barrels below what a Platts survey of analysts had projected.

Front-month gasoline gained 11 cents to end the day at $2.78 a gallon. The September contract price peaked at $2.79 and bottomed out at $2.68.

Natural gas for September delivery edged upward by less than a penny to settle at $4.00 per thousand cubic feet. The contract price fluctuated from $3.98 to $4.08.