BANGKOK — Oil prices fell Thursday in Asia after U.S. crude inventories swelled and a slowdown in South Korea's economy underlined that growth in demand for fuel could remain subdued.
Benchmark crude for September delivery was down 60 cents at $88.37 a barrel at midafternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 47 cents to settle at $88.97 in New York on Wednesday.
Brent crude was down 51 cents at $103.87 on the ICE futures exchange in London.
A rise in U.S. crude supplies pointed to weak demand as the recovery in the world's No. 1 economy stumbles. The Energy Information Administration reported that the nation's crude supply grew by 2.7 million barrels last week. Analysts were expecting supplies to fall by 250,000 barrels, according to a survey by Platts, the energy-information arm of McGraw Hill.
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U.S. crude supplies have grown this year to the highest levels since 1990. Gasoline supplies rose more than expected. The EIA said that gasoline supplies increased by 4.1 million barrels last week. Analysts were expecting supplies to grow by only 750,000 barrels.
South Korea's second quarter growth figures provided more evidence of the toll that Europe's prolonged debt crisis is taking on Asia. The region's fourth-largest economy said economic growth slowed to a two-year low as weakness in Europe crimped demand from South Korea's biggest market China.
In other futures trading, heating oil dropped 1 cent to $2.837 a gallon and gasoline fell 0.5 cent to $2.714 a gallon. Natural gas gained 0.5 cent to $3.075 per 1,000 cubic feet.
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