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Crude Falls as High Fuel Supplies Weigh

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NEW YORK--Crude-oil futures fell for a fourth-straight session Friday, as weakness in fuel markets lowered investors' view on oil demand.

Light, sweet crude for January delivery settled 33 cents lower at $85.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest level since Nov. 15.

Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange closed one cent lower at $107.02 a barrel.

Crude prices remained under pressure from slumping fuel markets as heating-oil futures fell 1% Friday and gasoline futures ended just slightly higher after five straight losing sessions.

"The shine is off this market right now," said Stephen Schork, head of trading advisor Schork Group. "It all comes down to the fact that we're sitting on a ton of oil."

A government report earlier this week on U.S. oil and fuel inventories showed the largest one-week increase in gasoline stockpiles in 11 years, while stocks of distillate, which include heating oil and diesel, also jumped.

Rising inventories of fuel in the U.S. could translate into weaker oil demand, analysts and investors said, as a drop in gasoline and heating-oil futures could convince refineries to dial back production.

Oil prices spiked early Friday after monthly data from the Labor Department showed the U.S. added 146,000 jobs last month while the unemployment rate fell to 7.7%.

But traders said the market's momentum quickly turned lower. Crude ended near the low end of a trading range between $85 and $90 a barrel. While economic growth in the U.S. is improving, investors remain concerned about China's slowdown and Europe's sovereign-debt crisis.

More recently, difficult negotiations between the White House and Congress to prevent tax increases and budget cuts in January have kept some traders on the sidelines.

January heating oil settled 2.79 cents lower at $2.9153 a gallon. Front-month January reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, settled 0.05 cent higher at $2.5974 a gallon.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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