Oil Tops Record High for 2010

Surging to a new record price on the New York Mercantile Exchange for 2010, crude futures rallied above $85 a barrel Thursday as traders, spurred by encouraging economic data, opened wallets for the energy commodity at the start of the second quarter.

Ahead of the Easter weekend, the price of light, sweet crude oil for May delivery hit an intra-day high above $85, but settled just below that at the close of the session to a new record price tag of $84.87 a barrel. Also booking a gain in the oil complex, NYMEX gasoline futures pushed two cents above the front-month contract's threshold of $2.30 a gallon.

Helping to prop up energy prices for the day, the number of workers filing for jobless benefits fell in the week to Mar. 26, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

Additionally, equities rose Thursday as Wall Street's economic optimism was lifted by a bullish report spotlighting the highest level of U.S. manufacturing activity since 2004, Reuters reported.

Yesterday, oil prices continued to soar despite the EIA's report underscoring added crude supplies, as well as an unexpected increase in gasoline inventories last week.

On the domestic energy front, natural gas spot prices at the Henry Hub for May delivery also broke above a $4 resistance area to settle back in positive territory at $4.09 Mcf. Today, the EIA highlighted a rise in natural gas storage to 12 Bcf for the previous week, beating expectations for a bearish 15 Bcf-injection into the energy commodity's storage.