Oil Inches Back Above $75 on Wall St. Rally

Approaching a one-month low near $74 during narrow trading, crude oil futures ultimately posted a slight gain on the New York Mercantile Exchange Monday as equities edged higher, the greenback lost ground and rebounding gasoline futures overshadowed a recent build in refined crude products.

Recovering slightly from three sessions on the downside, the price of light, sweet crude oil for March delivery gained 72 cents to close at $75.26 on the NYMEX, ultimately paring off an intra-day low of $74.06 at the start of the session.

"Overall, underlying fundamentals are still relatively bearish," said Darin Newsom, senior analyst with DTN, a market information service in Omaha, Nebraska.

"You're not seeing any commercial buying coming into the market based on renewed demand," the analyst added, while pointing to a rallying stock market as the primary impetus of today's minor lift in commodities.

Oil advanced in tandem with U.S. stocks as market talk centered on the reelection of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke helped spur downtrodden shares and renew optimism on Wall Street.

Additionally, the dollar's safe-haven demand slackened today as the U.S. legal tender was trumped by a basket of foreign currencies.

On the opposite side of the energy coin, natural gas spot prices at the Henry Hub for February delivery drew back into negative territory Monday, settling down to $5.722 per thousand cubic feet.

Prices for the energy commodity have failed to take off past record highs so far this year and remain fixed in the middle of a $5-$6 trading range.

"After testing out a target price at $6.13, natural gas prices have really stagnated and buying has been slow to emerge," Newsom underscored.