Oil Prices Down 2%, But Natural-gas Rallies To 3-week High

By Myra P. Saefong Markets MarketWatch Pulse

Oil fell Thursday as U.S. prices failed to hold ground above the key $50-a-barrel level despite the latest weekly decline in U.S. crude inventories. Natural-gas prices, meanwhile, settled at their highest level in three weeks on the heels of a smaller-than-expected climb in U.S. stockpiles. September WTI crude fell 97 cents, or 2%, to settle $48.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That was the lowest finish since July 25, according to FactSet data. September natural gas added 10.2 cents, or 3.5%, to end at $2.985 per million British thermal units-the highest since July 20.

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