Crude Oil Pares Losses; Nat Gas Falls Further


"Crude oil futures pare losses on strong mid-Atlantic manufacturing report"

Crude oil futures pared losses Thursday after a surprisingly strong report on mid-Atlantic manufacturing, while natural gas futures fell further after a report on inventories came in near expectations.

Oil for January delivery slipped $0.26 to $88.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It had been down $0.40 to $0.60 earlier in the session.

Natural gas for January tumbled $0.18, or 4.3%, to $4.047 per million British thermal units. It's lost about 40% this year.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said working gas in storage fell 164 billion cubic feet (Bcf) from the prior week. Analysts were anticipating a withdrawal of 159 Bcf to 163 Bcf from gas-storage stocks for the week ended Dec. 10, according to a Platts survey of analysts.

Commodities tracked a weak open for U.S. equities, which were hamstrung by disappointing results from FedEx Corp., but then recovered after the Philadelphia Federal Reserve said its manufacturing survey rose to 24.3 in December from 22.5 last month, countering expectations for a drop.

Oil and gold futures barely wavered in the wake of slightly better-than-expected employment data. U.S. first-time jobless claims fell 3,000 to 420,000 in the latest week.

The dollar index, a measure of the U.S. unit's performance against a basket of six other currencies, reversed higher, rising to 80.295 from 80.190 on Wednesday.

Analysts at Susquehanna Financial Group noted that Wednesday's inventory update helped boost crude oil futures on an overall drop in supplies, but a closer look at the data revealed sizable builds in distillates and higher supplies in Cushing, Oklahoma.

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