Commodity Corner: Oil, Gasoline Continue Steady Slide

Crude oil traders had little to celebrate on the final session before the Independence Day holiday. Oil fell for the fifth straight day Friday.

The August oil futures contract price settled at $72.14 per barrel, an 81-cent decline from Thursday's settlement price. Discouraging employment news has created doubts about the demand for oil. A day after reporting that initial jobless claims rose during the prior week, the U.S. Labor Department announced Friday that the country's overall employment declined by 125,000 in June largely a result of temporary Census workers completing their assignments. In addition, the National Association of Realtors reported that pending home sales declined by nearly one-third from April to May.

Oil peaked at $73.38 and bottomed out at $71.70 during Friday's session. The August contract price is down $6.11 for the week a 7.8% decline.

The front-month price for natural gas, which had a mixed week, fell 16 cents Friday to settle at $4.69 per thousand cubic feet. The August futures price peaked at $4.85 Thursday, and Friday's decline stems from profit-taking. The intraday range for gas was $4.61 to $4.87. For the week, gas is down by only three cents.

August gasoline futures continued their steady slide for the week, settling at $1.98 a gallon Friday. The contract price fluctuated from $1.96 to $2.01, and gasoline is down 16 cents for the week.