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Natural gas price hits another 10-year low; crude ends at $102.27

Benchmark crude prices fell by 40 cents to end at $102.27 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude rose by 3 cents to finish at $118 per barrel in London.

By CHRIS KAHN
The Associated Press

4/19/2012

NEW YORK — The price of natural gas has dropped to the lowest level in more than a decade Thursday as U.S. supplies continue to grow.

Meanwhile, benchmark crude prices fell by 40 cents to end at $102.27 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude rose by 3 cents to finish at $118 per barrel in London.

The Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that U.S. crude oil supplies grew by 3.9 million barrels last week. Analysts expected an increase of 400,000 barrels. The government's weekly report also said that U.S. gasoline demand fell 2.8 percent compared with a year ago.

Crude has traded above $100 a barrel for most of this year, sending gasoline prices to near $4 a gallon ($1.05 a liter) in the U.S. If fuel costs rise much more, they could threaten consumer spending and the fragile U.S. economic growth, analysts said.

Natural gas futures gave up 4.4 cents to finish at $1.9070 per 1,000 cubic feet in New York. That matches a10-year low reached on Jan. 28, 2002. The futures contract fell below $2 last week.

Prices declined after the Energy Information Administration reported that supplies grew by 25 billion cubic feet last week, putting the nation's supply level at 58 percent above the five-year average. Major natural gas companies such as Chesapeake Energy Corp. and ConocoPhillips have idled some of their production in hopes of slowing the expanding supply.

But supplies are still growing faster than normal this year, and analysts say the country may eventually run out of places to put its natural gas.

"Companies can talk all they want about reducing production, but until we start seeing a difference, prices are going to fall," independent analyst and trader Stephen Schork said.

In other energy trading Thursday, heating oil added less than a penny to end at $3.1251 per gallon. Gasoline futures fell by 4.86 cents to finish at $3.1541 per gallon.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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JB Hunt