Commodity Corner: Oil Down 2.4% for the Week

Despite a report that July petroleum demand rose by nearly 4%, crude oil futures fell by 97 cents Friday.

The price of a barrel of oil for September delivery settled at $73.46 on the same day that the American Petroleum Institute reported that total petroleum demand increased 3.8% in July year-on-year. Also, API noted particularly strong increases for deliveries of low-sulfur distillates (11.6%) and kerosene jet fuel (6.9%). Oil, which is down $1.78 for the week, traded within a range of $73.19 to $74.60.

API's news about gasoline, which settled flat at $1.93 a gallon, was less encouraging. According to the organization's report, the 9.3 million-b/d figure for July gasoline deliveries was 0.03% lower compared to the corresponding month in 2009. Moreover, with the exception of 2008, API noted that the 2010 figure was the lowest July gasoline demand number in seven years. An API official attributed the decreased gasoline demand to a reduction in vacationing by consumers -- a result of continued high unemployment.

The September gasoline futures price fluctuated between $1.91 and $1.94. For the week, gasoline is down by a penny.

Natural gas posted yet another decline Friday, settling five cents lower at $4.12 per thousand cubic feet. The September contract price traded from $4.11 to $4.18. Compared to Monday's settlement price of $4.23, gas is down 2.6% for the week.