Commodity Corner: WTI Slips; Brent Edges Upward

Light sweet crude oil for September delivery surged above $87 Friday but settled well below that on mixed economic news.

The WTI received a boost for much of the day after the U.S. Department of Commerce's Census Bureau on Friday announced that retail sales increased 0.5 percent last month. Moreover, the bureau revised upward sales figures for both May and June by 0.2 percent. In addition, it reported that sales at gasoline stations rose by 1.6 percent in July.

"Consumer spending reflects the confidence of the American people, and despite recent economic turbulence, we're still seeing widespread growth in spending," Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank said in a written statement.

The WTI peaked at $87.37 a barrel but settled at $85.38, a 34-cent day-on-day loss, after Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan reported dramatically lower preliminary consumer confidence figures. The sources' widely observed measure of consumer sentiment plunged 13.8 percent from July to August, hitting its lowest point in 31 years.

The WTI peaked at $87.37 and bottomed out at $84.02.

Brent futures eked out a slight, one-cent gain to end the day at $108.03 a barrel after trading within a range from $107.72 to $108.90.

The consumer confidence news also caused front-month natural gas to end the day lower. The September contract price lost a nickel to settle at $4.06 per thousand cubic feet. Natural gas futures fluctuated from $4.14 to $4.055.

September reformulated gasoline lost less than a penny to settle at $2.82 a gallon. The intraday range for gasoline was $2.81 to $2.86.