By Ira Iosebashvili
Oil prices declined for a second consecutive day Thursday amid worries that slowing global growth will weigh on demand.
U.S. oil prices fell 1.4% to $54.47 a barrel. Brent, the global benchmark, was off 2.1% to $58.23 a barrel.
Concerns that a trade battle between the U.S. and China will exacerbate a global slowdown have mounted in recent days. China pledged early Thursday to retaliate against U.S. tariffs set to be imposed in coming weeks, despite President's Trump's decision to delay implementing some of the levies.
The fresh trade worries come after downbeat economic news from China and Germany on Wednesday fueled worries about a global slowdown, sparking a sharp drop in oil prices and slamming stock markets.
Meanwhile, natural-gas prices jumped 4.2% on Thursday after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a weekly increase to gas in storage that was less than analysts were expecting.
The EIA said gas inventories rose 49 billion cubic feet last week, well below forecasts in a WSJ survey for a 61-bcf rise.
Traders say some parts of the country including Texas saw a surge in power demand late last week due to a heat wave, which likely provided a final lift to demand.
Natural gas for September delivery settled at $2.232 per million British thermal units.
In precious metals, palladium prices rose 1.6% to settle at $1,438.60 a troy ounce.
Prices have been buoyed by expectations that supplies of the metal -- which is used in auto manufacturing -- will remain constrained world-wide, even as auto demand falters.
Gold prices, meanwhile, closed up 0.2% at $1,519.60 a troy ounce, their highest settlement value since 2013.
Fears of a global slowdown have boosted the allure of the metal, a popular destination for nervous investors. Prices are up nearly 19% this year.
--Dan Molinski contributed to this article.
Write to Ira Iosebashvili at email@example.com