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Oil up as US supplies rise less than expected; natural gas down

The price of oil rose Wednesday as U.S. oil supplies increased less than expected, but natural gas futures fell again on forecasts of warmer weather by the middle of March.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery rose 76 cents to US$102.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The U.S. Energy Department said crude oil supplies rose by 68,000 barrels last week, well below the increase of 1.5 million barrels expected by analysts surveyed by Platts. Supplies at the key storage point in Cushing, Okla., fell by 1.1 million barrels, helping support oil prices.

Natural gas fell 15 cents to $4.54 per 1,000 cubic feet. Although frigid temperatures have returned this week to parts of the U.S. Midwest and Northeast, forecasts are calling for warmer temperatures as the start of spring approaches.

Brent crude, which is used to set prices for international varieties of crude, gained one cent to US$109.52 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex, wholesale gasoline was unchanged at US$2.80 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres) and heating oil rose two cents to US$3.13 a gallon.


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