Crude Regains Upward Momentum, Tops $82

Picking up a recent rally and breaking new ground above eight-week highs, crude oil topped $82 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Wednesday as last week's drawdown in fuel supplies spurred traders to open wallets for energy commodities late in the session.

Bouncing back from an earlier sell-off below $81 to an intra-day high above $83, the price of light sweet crude oil for April delivery settled on the upside to a final price tag of $82.09 a barrel.

NYMEX gasoline futures also gained on the session, with the energy product closing just under $2.30 a gallon.

Today, the Energy Information Administration unveiled a sixth consecutive build in crude stocks by 1.4 million barrels. Trumping analysts' expectations, gasoline stocks and distillates fell by 2.9 million barrels and 2.2 million barrels, respectively, according to EIA data.

The surprise drop in product inventories accelerated earlier profit-taking in the oil complex, but ultimately resulted in a late spike up for the price per barrel of crude.

On the domestic energy front, natural gas spot prices at the Henry Hub had a positive closing on today's NYMEX, burning brighter at $4.56 Mcf.

"I think the market had a skeptical outlook going into the session, but when traders saw the draws on the product side, they ran with it," said Gene McGillian, analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

"Crude did suffer a pretty big pull back during the middle of the day," the analyst noted, "but the market reclaimed those losses, and it looks as if the expectation of a rebound in product demand is what's feeding this rally."