Commodity Corner: Crude Dips Amidst Mixed Signals

The August crude oil futures contract declined late in trading today, pressured by weak economic indicators such as weak retail sales, low gasoline demand and high gasoline inventory.

Crude oil futures settled at $77.04 a barrel, down 11 cents from Tuesday, after trading between $76.38 and as high as $78.15. Crude oil futures rose initially in trading today after the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reported that crude oil inventories had declined by 5.1 million barrels for the week ending July 9.

However, crude futures began to decline after a Federal Reserve report indicated it should prepare to weigh additional steps to boost the U.S. economic recovery if the Federal economic outlook worsens.

DOE's report that gasoline inventories had risen 1.6 million barrels, while gasoline demand had declined, also weighed down crude futures. The U.S. Department of Commerce also reported that retail sales fell in June, which affected crude futures prices

Crude futures have been tracking the U.S. equities market, which has been boosted recently by bullish corporate earnings reports. Still, crude futures continue to trade within the $70-$80 price range.

RBOB gasoline futures settled at $2.06 after trading between $2.058 and $2.065.

Henry Hub natural gas futures settled today at $4.306 per thousand cubic feet, down four cents, after trading between $4.309 and $4.38. The ample supply of U.S. natural gas continues to keep a lid on prices despite forecasts of hot temperatures along the East Coast and in the Midwest.