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VOL. 37 | NO. 5 | Friday, February 01, 2013

Oil prices fall on ECB chief's comments on euro

The Associated Press

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NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil fell below $96 per barrel Thursday after the head of the European Central Bank expressed concern over a recent rise in the euro.

The euro was down against the dollar, to $1.3391 from $1.3525 on Wednesday. And European Central Bank president Mario Draghi pledged Thursday to keep a close eye on the economic impact of the rise of the euro, which has gained on the dollar in recent months. It rose from around $1.23 in mid-August to over $1.35 this week. A strong euro hurts the export prospects of the 17 countries in the common currency zone.

It also tends to result in higher oil prices by making crude priced in dollars cheaper — and a more enticing investment — for traders using currencies other than the greenback. Benchmark crude for March delivery fell 77 cents to $95.85 a barrel in midday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

A drop in U.S. stock markets also contributed to the selling in the oil market.

U.S. pump prices rose again, to a national average of nearly $3.56 a gallon. Drivers are paying about 25 cents more a gallon than a month ago. A 5 percent increase in oil prices so far this year, combined with a slowdown in production at some U.S. refineries due to maintenance, have contributed to higher gas prices.

In London, Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, was up 29 cents to $117.02 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 3 cents to $3.01 a gallon.

— Natural gas dropped 8 cents to $3.34 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil gained 2 cents to $3.20 a gallon.