The price of oil slipped below $102 a barrel on Friday, falling for a second day after spiking on lower U.S. inventories and tensions in Ukraine and the Middle East.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for September delivery was down $0.38 to $101.69 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Thursday, the Nymex contract dropped $1.05 to close at $102.07.
Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was up $0.04 to $107.11 in trading on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Lower-than-expected U.S. crude inventories in a weekly Energy Department report had driven prices up on Wednesday, but expectations of stronger growth in demand were later countered as gasoline supplies were nearly three times larger than predicted.
Oil prices were also under pressure from a downgraded growth forecast from the International Monetary Fund. The IMF now projects global growth of 3.4% this year, down from April expectations of 3.7% growth, as it sees economic expansion slowing in the United States, Russia and developing countries.
While concerns over the clashes in eastern Ukraine and Israel's invasion of the Gaza Strip have helped keep oil above $100 a barrel, some experts said there seemed to be no new grounds for another significant increase.
"The numerous sources of geopolitical crisis could have a negative impact on demand," said analysts at Commerzbank in Frankfurt in a note to clients. "What is more, there have so far been no significant supply outages despite all the conflicts, even including the situation in Iraq."
In other energies trading on Nymex:
- Wholesale gasoline rose 0.72 cent to $2.8202 a gallon.
- Natural gas lost 4.2 cents to $3.805 per 1,000 cubic feet.
- Heating oil added 1.01 cents to $2.8893 a gallon.
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