Oil Prices Near $100 A Barrel

Wednesday, November 7th 2007, 7:06 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. oil supplies fell last week for the third straight period, according to government data, though not as steeply as expected, slowing the price march toward $100 per barrel.

Stockpiles of gasoline also dropped, the government reported Wednesday, confounding analysts' estimates calling for inventories of the motor fuel to rise slightly.

Demand for gasoline over the past four weeks was 0.8% higher than a year earlier, averaging more than 9.3 million barrels a day.

At the pump, gas prices rose nearly 2 cents overnight to more than $3.04 a gallon for regular-grade gasoline and are well above the year-ago average of $2.20 per gallon, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.

Light, sweet crude for December delivery added 15 cents to $96.85 a barrel in morning trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier in the day, prices had climbed as high as $98.62 in electronic trading.

For the week ending Nov. 2, crude oil inventories fell by 800,000 barrels to 311.9 million barrels, which is 8% below year-ago levels, the Energy Department said in its weekly report. The drop was not as steep as expected, however. Oil inventories were forecast to have fallen by 1.6 million barrels last week, according to analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.

Stockpiles of gasoline also dropped by 800,000 barrels, or 0.4%, to 194.3 million barrels, confounding analysts' estimates calling for inventories of the motor fuel to rise by 200,000 barrels. Gasoline inventories are 5 percent below year-ago levels.

Inventories of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, grew by 100,000 barrels to 135.4 million barrels for the week ending November 2. Analysts expected a drop of 500,000 barrels.

U.S. refineries operated at 86.2% of total capacity on average.