Oil Falls to Near $97 on Ample Supplies



NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil fell another 1 percent Wednesday on higher U.S. supplies of crude and weak demand for fuel.

Benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery was down $1.15 to $97.15 a barrel in midday trading in New York. The price has fallen 5 percent over the last week to its lowest level since late June.

Brent crude, which is used to price international oil used at many U.S. refineries, was down $1.32 to $108.65 per barrel in London.

The U.S. Energy Department said in a report issued Wednesday that oil inventories rose by 5.2 million barrels over the past week. That followed the government's report released Monday that showed a 4 million barrel increase in crude supplies for the week ended Oct. 11.

Gasoline inventories decreased by 1.8 million barrels, but supplies of both oil and gasoline are at the upper range of their average over the past five years.

Demand for fuels fell 1.5 percent compared to the same period last year.

Oil analyst Jim Ritterbusch said in a report Wednesday that the market looked "oversupplied" because of rising U.S. production.

Another factor in oil's recent decline, analysts say, is reduced risk of supply disruptions out of the Middle East — and a possible return of more Iranian crude to the global market — as talks between Iran and the West over Iran's nuclear program have re-started.

In other energy futures trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 5 cents to $2.57 a gallon.

— Natural gas rose 5 cents to $3.63 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil slipped 5 cents to $2.94 a gallon.



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