Energy Prices Continue Sell-Off; Oil Keeps above $80

Under pressure Thursday from a surging greenback, crude oil futures extended yesterday's losses on the New York Mercantile Exchange, but maintained a price tag above $80 a barrel in spite of the market's rising supplies.

Today, the dollar-denominated price of light, sweet crude oil for May delivery notched down to $80.53 a barrel. Additionally, NYMEX gasoline futures headed south to $2.22 a gallon at the close of a volatile trading session.

"The market tried to pressure oil prices yesterday with the dollar index rallying, and even today when the dollar gained some footing and went back over 82 points, crude oil continued to find buying," said Darin Newsom, senior analyst with DTN in Omaha, Nebraska.

On the other hand, Newsom underscored, still-bearish fundamentals are currently underlying the crude oil market. Despite today's negative movement, prices have defied these rising inventories to soar above the $80-pointmark, spurred by economic and demand optimism.

The analyst continued, "The spillover strength from the Dow Jones is keeping buyers interested in the crude oil market on the idea that Spring/Summer demand is going to come around, even though it doesn't look like it right now."

"The whole idea is that maybe these fundamentals could change, and I really think that's what was driving crude oil today," Newsom added.

On the opposite side of the energy coin, natural gas spot prices at the Henry Hub settled just below a $4 threshold on the NYMEX to $3.98 Mcf. The domestic energy commodity's prices have continued to slide primarily due to bearish supplies and slow demand.