Despite reports of Saudi protests, crude futures trimmed losses for the third consecutive day Thursday. After trading between $100.62 and $105.06, crude prices slipped $1.68 from the previous day to settle at $102.70.
Witnesses earlier said police shot and wounded protesters in Saudi Arabia's eastern province. News of protests suggests that Saudi Arabia may be the latest addition to the spreading political turmoil in the Middle East. The world's largest exporter, Saudi Arabia, produces approximately 9 million barrel of oil per day. As OPEC's top producer, analysts fear that if violence continues in Saudi Arabia, prices could skyrocket.
Activists in the Middle East have planned for mass protests after Friday's religious prayers.
Natural gas futures also traded lower Thursday, ending the trading session at $3.83 per thousand cubic feet. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), gas inventories fell by 71 billion cubic feet, 1.3 percent above the five-year average. Due to milder weather, stockpiles were above average for the first time since Jan. Warmer weather decreases the demand for heating fuel.
The increase in production from North American shale formations is also pressuring natural gas prices. Traders anticipate a continued market overhang.
Natural gas for April delivery fluctuated between $3.80 and $3.94.
Gasoline prices fluctuated between $2.96 and $3.05 before settling at $3.02 a gallon Thursday.
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