Oil drops for 5th straight day; natural gas jumps

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NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. crude-oil futures pulled back Thursday for their fifth straight down day, while natural gas jumped even after weekly data showed a bigger-than-expect rise in supplies.

Crude oil for September delivery CLU3 -0.79%  slumped 97 cents, or 0.9%, to settle at $103.40 a barrel. The contract erased early gains after nearing the $105 level early Thursday on major oil importer China reporting encouraging trade data for July.

September Brent crude UK:LCOU3 -0.72% also lost ground, falling 76 cents, or 0.7%, to $106.68 a barrel on ICE Futures.

Natural gas for September deliveryNGU13 +2.43% jumped 5 cents, or 1.5%, to settle at $3.30 per million British thermal units after the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The contract had traded near $3.24 before the EIA report, then dived to around $3.13 briefly before rallying back, according to FactSet data.

Domestic natural-gas supplies rose significantly more than expected for the week ended Aug. 2, the EIA said. Supplies grew by 96 billion cubic feet, while analysts surveyed by Platts had expected a net addition between 74 billion cubic feet and 78 billion cubic feet.

Platts had noted the number would be much higher than average amid mild weather across much of the U.S. that reduced natural-gas demand for power generation.

Natural gas may have snapped back for technical reasons, according to Jonathan Krinsky, a technical analyst at Miller Tabak. “The continuous contract […] came close to the February lows around $3.135, and has hit the downtrend support line,” he said in emailed commentary. “Therefore, we would not be surprised to see a bounce from this area.”