But the situation in Europe with Greece's fiscal crisis weighing on the euro continued to unsettle markets. Greece successfully placed a bond issue this week, but questions remain about the stability of the euro zone. The euro inched above the $1.36 mark in late Friday trading.
Oil prices also overcame a nearly 4% drop in natural gas prices on Thursday. The benchmark Nymex contract fell 18.2 cents on Thursday to settle at $4.575 a million British thermal units. Traders concluded that cold winter weather was now over, analysts said.
The draw-down in gas storage was only 116 billion cubic feet in previous week, less than the consensus forecast, so that total gas storage remains above the five-year average. Natural gas futures settled only marginally higher on Friday at $4.595/MMBtu.
Natural gas price trends are more often decoupled from crude oil trends as increased output of shale gas in the U.S. creates a different supply and demand situation.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has begun flexing some enforcement muscle in energy futures trading. The CFTC fined UBS for exceeding position limits in heating oil and natural gas contracts, and the U.S. Oil Fund, an exchange-traded fund, said the agency may charge it with wrongly reporting some trades.