Commodity Corner: Oil, Natural Gas Edge Downward

Crude oil for June delivery slipped by a penny Monday to settle at $112.28 a barrel.

Oil surged to $113.48 during Monday's trading, supported by fears of spreading unrest in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa as well as a weakening dollar. In the latter case, the dollar ultimately recouped some of its losses from earlier in the day. Because oil is traded in dollars, the oil price tends to increase when the U.S. currency weakens because the commodity becomes a better value for investors holding other currencies. The greenback's strengthening later in the day evidently curtailed this effect.

Crude oil bottomed out at $111.08 Monday.

Thanks to moderating temperatures throughout the Midwest and Northeast and the declining demand for heating, May natural gas lost two cents to end the day at $4.39 per thousand cubic feet. Front-month natural gas traded within a range from $4.34 to $4.445 Monday.

May gasoline settled a penny higher Monday at $3.32 a gallon. The increase stems from analysts' expectations that U.S. gasoline stockpiles will fall as the summer driving season nears.

The gasoline futures price fluctuated from $3.29 to $3.34 during the first trading session of the week.