Commodity Corner: Crude Drops on Jobs, Supply News

October crude prices fell Thursday, erasing earlier gains on news of a supply surplus.

Light, sweet crude settled 55 cents lower at $74.12 a barrel. The Labor Department reported that U.S. jobless claims decreased by 27,000 the week ending September 4 compared to the previous week. The decrease was much larger than economists expected, pushing crude to a high of $75.96 early in the session Thursday. Oil later bottomed out at $74.32. The jobs report also boosted the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which peaked at 10,476 earlier in the day.

Oil traders, in contrast, focused on the increasingly large supply of crude. According to the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration, inventories last week fell by 1.9 million barrels week-on-week. Traders assumed the rally would be short-lived, given a plentiful supply and the then-looming threat of Hurricane Earl interrupting import deliveries along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Natural gas for October delivery settled at $3.77 per thousand cubic feet on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Supplies of gas in storage expanded by 58 billion cubic feet from last week--5.5 percent above the five-year average--as reported by the Energy Department.

The intraday range for natural gas was $3.70 to $3.84 Thursday.

Front-month October gasoline settled at $1.93 a gallon Thursday after trading between $1.93 and $1.97.