On Thursday, the U.S. Federal Reserve may or may not announce a third round of bond buying, called quantitative easing, meant to stimulate a sluggish economic recovery.
Before key announcements, prices tend to stagnate as traders wait for a clue on which direction the market may be headed.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil for October delivery has ranged from $91 to $97 per barrel since early August and is now pressing against the high end of that range, as traders position themselves for both announcements.
October delivery crude oil traded at $97.28 per barrel Wednesday morning and closed not much lower at $97.01 -- up from $96.77 a day earlier. Natural gas added 0.5 cents to $3.068 per million British thermal units.
In after-hours trading, home heating oil shed 0.02 cents to $3.215 per gallon. Reformulated blendstock gasoline lost 0.96 cents to $2.992 per gallon.
At the pump, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $3.858 per gallon, up from Tuesday's $3.843, AAA reported.
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