Oil prices fall for sixth straight day


THE price of oil fell yesterday for a sixth day as the U.S. government reported that crude supplies are the highest in 22 years.

Benchmark US oil gave up 20 cents to finish at US$96.81 per barrel in New York. The six-day drop is the longest for US oil since July 2011. Brent crude added 47 cents to finish at US$113.20 a barrel in London.

Prices have been declining in reaction to new doubts about Europe's ability to fix its economy and disappointing jobs growth in the US. And as slowing economies temper the demand for oil, the amount of crude in storage rises.

The Energy Information Administration said yesterday that increased oil imports and weaker domestic demand for petroleum helped boost the nation's oil supply last week to 379.5 million barrels, the highest since 1990.

The Commerce Department also said US wholesalers increased their stockpiles more slowly in March, hinting at a slowdown at the nation's factories.

"There's just an inherent mood out there for caution," said Peter Donovan, a broker with Vantage Trading.

Saudi Arabia also is boosting supplies in an effort targeted toward pushing world oil prices lower. And Iran is scheduled to meet in two weeks with several other countries including the US to talk about its nuclear program. That has eased fears of a protracted standoff that could slow oil shipments out of the Middle East.

At the pump, US retail gasoline prices fell by more than a penny to a national average of US$3.75 per gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service. A gallon of regular unleaded has dropped an average of 19 cents in about a month. Gasoline is 21 cents cheaper than it was at the same time last year.

In other futures trading, heating oil added nearly a penny to finish at US$2.9991 per gallon and wholesale gasoline rose by 2.97 cents to end at US$3.0241 per gallon. Natural gas added 7.2 cents to finish at US$2.465 per 1,000 cubic feet.



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