Oil Closes Near $74, Natural Gas Charges Ahead

With gazes fixed on Wall Street's movements and banking restrictions cropping up on the domestic front and abroad, oil traders sought to curb crude futures' recent losses on the New York Mercantile Exchange Friday but pre-weekend gains were short-lived.

Exiting a rough week on the NYMEX, the price of light, sweet crude oil for March delivery trimmed an additional dollar from yesterday's final price tag to close at $74.54 a barrel.

Interestingly, a weaker dollar, which usually makes its denominated commodities more appealing, did little to lift oil prices at the close of Friday's session. Both greenback and energy commodities took a hit from President Obama's aim to limit risk-taking by U.S. financial institutions.

The EIA's confirmation on Thursday of rising gasoline products resulting from still-tepid demand in the U.S. ultimately spurred investors away from the risky energy commodity ahead of the weekend.

Energy demand in China, specifically for gasoline, diesel and kerosene, is anticipated to grow by 4% in 2010, according to the National Energy Administration.

Moving to the upside today, natural gas spot prices at the Henry Hub added 20 cents to its settlement, climbing to just under the $6-threshold at $5.819 per thousand cubic feet.