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Oil prices tumble over ample supplies, flat demand

Benchmark crude for February delivery fell 36 cents at late afternoon Bangkok time to $92.76 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

By PAMELA SAMPSON
The Associated Press

1/3/2013

BANGKOK  — Oil prices fell Thursday as fiscal-cliff euphoria fizzled and the traders evaluated ample energy supplies against lackluster demand.

Benchmark crude for February delivery fell 36 cents at late afternoon Bangkok time to $92.76 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices had jumped Wednesday after a deal in Washington averted the dreaded "fiscal cliff." The contract rose $1.30 to finish at $93.12 a barrel on the Nymex.

Despite the stopgap budget deal, more hurdles are ahead for the U.S. economy, including a new deadline for more spending cuts in two months.

Moreover, Moody's Investors Services said the U.S. government's "AAA" credit rating could be at risk if lawmakers fail to take additional steps to lower the deficit, which has topped $1 trillion annually in each of the past four years.

Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., said it expects data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency and the American Petroleum Institute to show a 1 million barrel draw for the week ending Dec. 28. Still, the U.S. market is "well-supplied," Platts said, citing analysts.

U.S. supplies, at 371 million barrels for the week ending Dec. 21, are 15.6 percent higher than the five-year average, Platts said, citing EIA data. For the same week, data showed U.S. production at nearly 7 million barrels per day, the highest since December 1993.

Carl Larry of Oil Outlooks and Opinions said production levels were "at new high" and noted that "the room for demand to expand is not even close to what we had just a few short years ago before the global recession."

Brent crude, used to price various kinds of international oil, fell 49 cents to $111.98 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

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

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.1 cents to $2.7937 a gallon.

— Heating oil fell 1.7 to $3.041 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 1.9 cents to $3.214 per 1,000 cubic feet.