It was a big day for crude futures, as the price of broke through the $63 mark and stayed there till the end. Light crude for delivery in August tracked up for the third straight day, soaring by $1.54 to settle at $63.56 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Yesterday, the front-month contract added 48 cents to settle at $62.02. If you're looking for a reason for the uptick, well, there was plenty to choose from. Several reports are eying political strife in Iran, but most oil-related headlines are leading with the
jaw-dropping housing starts numbers. The Commerce Department said new-home construction rose 3.6% during June, giving more hope that the economy may be turning a corner. Stephen Schork, energy analyst and editor of The Schork Report, said the week that finished with a 6% rise in oil prices was a real tug-of-war between the bulls and bears. "It looks like the bulls held the line," Schork said today. "I have to expect to see another run around $75." Most of the major energy stocks jumped in the afternoon, with Exxon Mobil ( XOM) closing in positive territory, up 6 cents at $68.52. Occidental Petroleum ( OXY) was up 48 cents at $67.75 at the closing bell, while Chevron ( CVX) gained 23 cents at $65.12 by the end of the day. On the other hand, Hess ( HES) lost 1.3%, or 64 cents, at $50.28. Many of the major oil services companies also held on to their gains by the end of the day. BJ Services ( BJS) and Schlumberger ( SLB), which report earnings next week, each gained near 1% by the close.