Crude oil for March delivery surged toward $88 Thursday but ended the day much closer to the bottom of the trading range.
For the first time in six days, crude futures settled higher Thursday. Prices inched upward 2 cents to settle at $86.73 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). Crude rose to a high of $87.90 earlier Thursday on news of strikes sweeping across Egypt. However, it relinquished its early wins as traders absorbed the now-false rumors that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would step down by the end of the day.
Since Jan. 25, traders have been keeping a close eye on Egypt's political unrest for fear of it spread to nearby countries—some of which are the world's leading oil producers. With the prospect of civility in Egypt, now in question following Mubarak's surprise decision, analysts predict no immediate threat for global oil supplies.
Natural gas for March delivery fell to its lowest in almost three months, settling below $4 per thousand cubic feet. Down 1.4%, natural gas ended Thursday's trading session at $3.986 per thousand cubic feet.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported 2.144 trillion cubic feet for the week ended Feb. 4. In spite of freezing temperatures and above-average withdrawals from gas in storage, natural gas continues its bearish decline. The intraday range for natural gas was $3.97 to $4.15.
Gasoline prices also settled lower at $2.47 a gallon. The 2.2% decrease in gasoline prices came after fluctuating between $3.97 and $4.15.