Commodity Corner: Oil Up Nearly 3%

Although Hurricane Earl is expected to put a damper on Labor Day travel plans -- and gasoline demand -- along the East Coast, October crude oil futures surged Wednesday.

Oil settled at $73.91 a barrel, a $1.99 improvement from Tuesday, as the euro strengthened against the dollar and equities markets rallied on positive Chinese economic news. China's Federation of Logistics and Purchasing reported that Chinese manufacturing activity rose in August. The government-affiliated organization stated that its purchasing managers index increased 0.5 point to 51.7 last month. Stock indexes such as the Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq, and FTSE 100 posted gains above 2.5% Wednesday.

Crude oil traded from $71.67 to $74.48.

Gasoline for October delivery increased by three cents to settle at $1.89 a gallon Wednesday. The U.S. Department of Energy reported that the country's supply of gasoline had fallen by 212,000 barrels as of last Friday compared to 225.6 million barrels for the week ending August 20. The intraday range for gasoline was $71.67 to $74.48.

The natural gas futures price slipped six cents to settle at $3.76 per thousand cubic feet. October natural gas fluctuated between $3.71 and $3.88.