Commodity Corner: Oil Edges Downward; Gas Nears $5

The July oil futures contract settled 11 cents lower Monday.

Thanks to recent negative U.S. employment news, continued weakening of the Euro, discouraging prospects for economic growth in Europe, and high inventories, investors see signs of less-than-robust demand growth for crude oil. On Monday, crude settled at $71.44 a barrel Monday and traded within a range of $69.51 to $72.17.

The natural gas futures price for July delivery moved in the opposite direction, continuing its advance toward the $5.00 mark Monday. It increased 12 cents to $4.92 per thousand cubic feet, which happened to be at the top end of the day's trading range. Natural gas bottomed out at $4.66 Monday. High temperatures are forecast through much of the U.S., and increased demand for electricity to power air conditioners has been propelling natural gas futures. In addition, the federal government's moratorium on offshore drilling is expected to boost demand for natural gas produced onshore.

The futures price for a gallon of gas was virtually flat Monday, settling less than 1 cent lower to approximately $1.99. Gasoline traded from $1.96 to $2.02.