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Crude oil down a bit

  |   July 31, 2012 at 6:30 PM
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NEW YORK, July 31 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices, which seem to have stuck the landing, holding between $88 and $92 per barrel since mid-July, closed on the low end of that range Tuesday.

Monday's lack of major economic reports and stagnant markets on Wall Street provided the inertia. Traders have expectations the European Central Bank will begin purchasing bonds from struggling eurozone countries, but that may already be priced into the market. A push from meat producers to have ethanol mandates for gasoline relaxed due to a harsh summer drought is presumably weeks or months away from an administrative decision.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices were on an upward slope on the New York Mercantile Exchange with September delivery contracts opened the day at $90.09 per barrel, but closed at $88.03. Reformulated blendstock gasoline lost 0.27 cents to $2.7716 per gallon. Home heating oil slipped to $2.839 per gallon, off 0.9 cents.

Natural gas was at $3.219 per million British thermal units, up 1 cent.

At the pump, the national average price of unleaded gasoline rose slightly to $3.50 per gallon from Monday's $3.486, AAA said.

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