Sticker shock at the thermostat: Why heating oil prices are going up

Here's a great example of why they're called futures markets and not presents markets: There's plenty of heating oil to go around -- indeed, inventories are at their highest level in nearly three decades -- and yet prices are going up.

Chalk it up to the disconnect between how things are now and how commodity traders bet they'll be in the not-too-distant future. Supplies of heating oil stand about 33 percent above their five-year average, we learned from the Energy Department on Thursday, something that would ordinarily be considered a glut.

Gluts are bad for producers but great for consumers, thanks to the good old law of supply and demand. Barring a sudden sustained blast of Arctic air settling over a chunk of the country, the price of heating oil, if anything, should probably be coming down.