The price of oil dropped a bit Wednesday after three days of increases.
Benchmark oil fell 53 cents to $93.14 per barrel Wednesday in New York.
Oil prices had increased more than $6 per barrel since Thursday following a positive report on the U.S. job market. In addition, quarterly earnings for many companies have been stronger than expected.
Yet, the overall economy continues to struggle, which has fueled speculation that the Federal Reserve may take action to promote economic growth.
A stronger economy means more demand for oil and other energy products. Oil demand is better than it was earlier in the year but hasn't recovered to year-ago levels, said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research.
Oil got a temporary boost Wednesday from a bigger-than-expected decline in U.S. stockpiles. The Energy Department said oil inventories fell 3.7 million barrels last week to 369.9 million barrels. Analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., had predicted a much smaller decline of 300,000 barrels.
But the economic news from Europe remains grim. The Banque de France said it expects the French economy to slip into recession in the third quarter. German industrial production and exports fell in June.
Traders will closely watch fresh economic data from China Thursday on inflation, factory production and retail sales. China is the world's second-biggest economy and a huge importer of oil.
At the pump, the national average price of gasoline rose about 1 penny to $3.647 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service. That's up nearly 27 cents from a month ago. It's about 2 cents less than a year ago.
Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, gained 28 cents to $112.26 per barrel in London.
Other futures prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange:
— Heating oil increased 1 cent to $3.01 per gallon.
— Gasoline fell 1 cent to $2.98 per gallon.
— Natural gas fell 5 cents to $2.91 per 1,000 cubic feet.