Oil Down After Volatile Session
Oil futures ended a whipsaw session slightly lower, as the expiration of options played havoc with prices, driving crude near record high levels at times and down by more than $3 a barrel at others. Retail gas prices, meanwhile, advanced past $3.77 a gallon.
Options let investors bet oil prices will rise or fall in the future. Oil prices can fluctuate widely on days when options expire, analysts said.
Light, sweet crude for June delivery lost 10 cents to settle at $124.12 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after rising as high as $126.64 earlier in the session, and falling as low as $120.75 later in the day.
In other Nymex trading, June gasoline futures fell 1.46 cents to settle at $3.1658 a gallon, and June heating oil futures rose 0.46 cent to settle at $3.6224 a gallon.
Fewer to Hit the Road Memorial Day Weekend
High fuel prices are prompting many Americans to rethink Memorial Day travel plans, according to AAA.
The automobile club projects that the number of Americans traveling more than 50 miles from home over the long holiday weekend will fall nearly 1 percent from last year.
About 31.7 million Americans plan to travel via car over Memorial Day weekend, a 1 percent decline from 32 million last year. About 4.35 million will travel by plane, a decline of about half a percent from the 4.37 million who flew last year. Another 1.8 million will travel by train, bus or other transportation.