Oil Follows Rollercoaster Path Thursday - TheStreet

Updated from 9:30 a.m. EDT

The U.S. crude oil market traded in wide swings Thursday morning, as prices for light sweet and Brent crude soared nearly $6 a barrel just before the open of regular trading day at the New York Mercantile Exchange.

However, after spiking to an intraday high of $101.54 a barrel, WTI crude futures reversed course and free-fell back near $96 a barrel and ultimately posted a slight gain for the session.

October West Texas crude edged up 72 cents to $97.88 a barrel, and Brent slid 9 cents to $94.75 a barrel.

Reformulated

gasoline

rose 2 cents to $2.48 a gallon, heating oil lost 5 cents to $2.78 a gallon, and natural gas moved 29 cents lower to $7.62 per million British thermal units.

Crude oil wasn't the only energy commodity to traverse a wild pathway Thursday. Natural gas futures dove from roughly $8.25 per million British thermal units to below $7.75 per million British thermal units in less than 10 minutes midmorning.

The cause of the extreme volatility in natural gas isn't entirely clear. Jim Williams, economist at WTRG economics in Arkansas, said in an email that the fall may have been connected to the near-implosion of

Constellation Energy

(CEG)

, which got a downgrade in the morning from Citigroup and by midday had a

buyout offer

from a Warren Buffett-controlled company.

The Energy Information Administration released new natural gas inventory data Thursday. U.S. stockpiles gained 67 billion cubic feet of underground storage last week. The gain was in line with analyst estimates, and nat gas futures moved little when the news was released.

Elsewhere, energy stocks mostly posted gains along with the

U.S. stock market

.

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get Report

climbed 4.2% to $72.26,

Chevron

(CVX) - Get Report

advanced 3.5% to $82.88, and

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report

rose 3.3% to $77.75.

The

U.S. Oil Fund

(USO) - Get Report

, an exchange-traded fund that closely tracks the performance of WTI futures contracts on the Nymex, rose 2.2% higher to $79.17.