Commodity Corner: Oil Settles Lower Again

September crude oil futures declined yet again Wednesday after the U.S. Department of Energy reported the country's commercial stockpile of crude oil was 3.1% higher last week than it was for the corresponding period in 2009.

Oil settled at $75.42 a barrel, a 35-cent decrease from Tuesday, after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced that commercial inventories declined to 354.2 million barrels last week a 0.2% drop from the previous week. However, the statistic was 10.9 million barrels lower for the week ending August 14, 2009. The most recent figure indicates that the supply of crude oil is rising faster than demand, supporting fears that the economy is weakening. Oil traded within a range from $73.83 to $75.75 Wednesday.

EIA also announced that U.S. gasoline inventories were 6.5% higher for the week ending August 13, 2010, compared to the same period last year -- 223.3 million barrels last week compared to 209.8 million barrels in 2009. However, the agency also noted that the country's gasoline rose to 9.451 million barrels last weekthe third straight weekly increase and a marked improvement from the 9.132 million barrels for the week ending August 14, 2009. On Wednesday, the price of gasoline for September delivery rose by a penny to settle at $1.96 a gallon. The intraday range for gasoline was $1.91 to $1.97.

Natural gas for September delivery fell three cents to settle at $4.24 per thousand cubic feet. The futures price fluctuated from $4.20 to $4.31.