Commodity Corner: Oil Stays Put

Tropical Storm Bonnie's impact on the Gulf Coast was minimal over the weekend. The same could be said for the direction of September crude oil futures during Monday's trading.

In fact, the price of a barrel of oil settled at the same point where it had settled on Friday: $78.98. The unchanged settlement price stems from mixed messages regarding demand. First, the U.S. Bureau of the Census reported Monday that sales of new single-family houses jumped 23.6% in June well above the 3.7% increase foreseen in the private sector. Diminishing this news, however, was a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas observing ongoing sluggish manufacturing activity in Texas. The Dallas Fed's Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey, which is released monthly and observed only slight growth in output for July, is significant because Texas produces more than 9.5% of the country's total manufactured goods.

The intraday range for oil was $78.06 to $79.33.

The August futures price for natural gas showed modest growth Monday, gaining three cents to settle at $4.61 per thousand cubic feet. Natural gas traded from $4.51 to $4.63.

August gasoline futures fell by a penny Monday, settling at $2.11 a gallon. The front-month price for gasoline fluctuated from $2.09 to $2.12 during the day's trading.