Oil Trumps $86 Despite Stronger Dollar

Regaining upward momentum at the close of Tuesday's session, crude oil futures pared earlier losses to settle slightly higher for a sixth consecutive session on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Despite pressure from a stronger U.S. currency, the dollar-denominated price per barrel of light, sweet crude oil climbed to $86.84 a barrel after a volatile trading session. Conversely, both NYMEX gasoline futures and domestic natural gas spot prices reversed yesterday's gains to settle down to $2.34 a gallon and $4.10 Mcf, respectively.

"Oil is still in a breakout mode," noted Phil Flynn, vice president in charge of research at Chicago-based PFG Best. "Ultimately, I think oil is being technically driven, and I think what everyone is watching is how the Federal Reserve is going to react to these higher energy prices."

The analyst explained, "I think there's a warning sign on the inflationary front. If oil prices continue to soar, the Fed is going to be concerned and will have to act on interest rates."