Crude Rallies above $85, Natural Gas Retreats

Boosted by an unexpected draw in domestic gasoline inventories yesterday, U.S. crude futures extended gains on the New York Mercantile Exchange Thursday as oil traders' risk appetite was revived by green shoots signaling a recovery in demand ahead of the summer driving season.

Briefly pressured earlier in the session, the price of light, sweet crude oil for June delivery rose nearly 2% to close in bullish territory at $85.17 a barrel. Also rallying in the oil complex, NYMEX gasoline futures climbed to a final price tag of $2.36 a gallon.

Wednesday, oil prices reversed a recent sell off on the heels of the Federal Reserve's decision to keep interest rates low. Additionally, government data issued yesterday spotlighted a spike in refinery utilization by 3.1 percentage points to a more robust capacity of 89%.

On the opposite side of the energy coin, natural gas spot prices at the Henry Hub for June 2010 delivery posted a loss on the commodity exchange Thursday, ultimately settling just below a $4 threshold to $3.98 per thousand cubic feet.