Oil Slips as U.S. Crude and Gasoline Stockpiles Grow

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NEW YORK (AP) -- The price of oil slipped below $93 a barrel Wednesday, as a report of rising U.S. crude supplies outweighed a forecast for higher demand this year from aluminum giant Alcoa (NYSE: AA  ) .

In afternoon trading benchmark oil was down 23 cents to $92.92 a barrel in New York.

The Energy Information Agency said that U.S. crude supplies grew by 1.3 million barrels last week, while gasoline stocks increased by 7.4 million barrels, or 3.3 percent.

Analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill (NYSE: SPGI  ) , forecast a rise of 1.5 million barrels for crude oil, but expected gasoline supplies to rise by just 2.6 million barrels.

Late Tuesday Alcoa opened the fourth-quarter earnings season with a prediction of a 7 percent increase in demand this year, slightly better than the 6 percent increase in 2012. That indicates the company expects a pickup in economic activity, which in turn could boost demand for oil.

But the report from the EIA indicates that the U.S. has plenty of oil in supply. Supplies are about 8 percent higher than a year ago, and daily oil production in the U.S. is at levels not seen since the 1990s.

Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, was down 60 cents to $111.34 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

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

  • Wholesale gasoline fell 3 cents to $2.77 a gallon.
  • Heating oil rose was unchanged at $3.06 a gallon.
  • Natural gas was down 12 cents to $3.11 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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