Commodity Corner: Crude Falls on Higher Jobless Claims

The July oil futures price fell by 80 cents a barrel Thursday after the federal government reported that Americans' claims for unemployment insurance increased last week.

Thursday's $76.79 settlement price marked oil's first decline this week. In its Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report, the U.S. Department of Labor stated that initial jobless claims rose by 12,000 to 472,000 for the week ended June 12. The increase cast doubts on the strength of the oft-touted economic recovery, in turn dampening expectations for oil demand. The front-month crude price fluctuated between $76.17 and $77.79 Thursday.

Natural gas, meanwhile, returned to territory north of $5.00 per thousand cubic feet. Thursday's $5.16 settlement price is an 18-cent improvement over the previous day. The positive movement stems from an Energy Information Administration report that natural gas inventories increased below analysts' expectations. In addition, ongoing hot weather conditions throughout much of the U.S. are contributing to the natural gas rally. Gas traded from $4.98 to $5.18 Thursday.

The price of a gallon of gasoline rose by a penny Thursday, settling at $2.16 after trading from $2.14 to $2.18.