Oil futures recoup some recent losses; natural-gas prices end nearly flat – MarketWatch

Oil futures finished higher on Thursday to recoup some price losses suffered a day earlier. Prices found support after Bloomberg News reported that the U.S. Energy Department said it has no plans to tap the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve. That contradicted comments reported by the Financial Times from Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Wednesday, who raised the possibility of a release of oil from the SPR. Oil also moved higher along with the stock market after U.S. lawmakers reached a deal to extend the government’s debt limit. That took the “risk of a near-term recession off the table, and puts off the potential debt ceiling calamity for another day,” increasing oil demand expectations, said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at The Price Futures Group. West Texas Intermediate crude for November delivery CLX21, +1.67% rose 87 cents, or 1.1%, to settle at $78.30 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Natural-gas futures, meanwhile, ended the session almost flat, a day after dropping sharply on news that Russia will raise natural-gas supplies to Europe. November natural gas NGX21, +0.99% settled at $5.677 per million British thermal units, compared with Wednesday’s finish at $5.675.