Commodity Corner: Oil Crosses the $80 Mark

Crude futures for November delivery hit a 7-week high Thursday on news of a decrease in initial jobless claims, along with continued
shrinking stockpiles in the U.S.

Light, sweet crude settled at $79.97 a barrel--a $2.11 gain from Wednesday and the highest since Aug. 11. The November futures price
peaked at $80.18 and bottomed out at $77.55.

According to the Commerce Department, the U.S. economy grew at a stronger-than-anticipated 1.7 percent annual rate in the second
quarter. Additionally, initial unemployment claims decreased by 16,000 to 435,000 in the week ended Sept. 25, as reported by the U.S. Labor Department. Analysts predict positive economic reports to have slightly sparked energy demands.

The dollar fell to an 8-month low, trading 0.1 percent lower against the euro. A weaker dollar heightens the appeal of commodities as an
alternative investment.

Meanwhile, the front-month contract for natural gas lost 9 cents, trading at $3.87 per thousand cubic feet on the New York Mercantile
Exchange. The Energy Information Administration reported that natural gas stockpiles increased by 74 billion cubic feet last week. Natural
gas in U.S. storage was at 3.414 trillion cubic feet for the week ended Sept. 24, 6.3 percent higher than the five-year average of 3.212
trillion cubic feet. Analysts anticipate an oversupply until the arrival of cooler weather, when heating demands will increase the nation's appetite for natural gas.

The intraday range for Henry Hub natural gas was $3.78 to $4.01.

RBOB gasoline settled 4 cents higher at $2.04 a gallon Thursday, after fluctuating between $1.99 and $2.05.