Crude oil drops to less than $104

Aug. 21, 2013 at 4:30 PM   |   Comments

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NEW YORK, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Crude oil for October dipped to less than $104 per barrel in New York Wednesday after U.S. Federal Reserve released minutes of its late July policy meeting.

The minutes said the economy was growing "modestly," although it was also growing at a pace slower than decision makers had anticipated.

The unemployment rate "remained elevated," the Fed said. The central bank has said a change in policy would likely depend on a lower unemployment rate, which is currently 7.4 percent. The Fed has targeted 6.5 percent as a threshold for policy change.

The Energy Information Administration in a weekly inventory report said crude oil stockpiles dropped by 1.4 million barrels to 359.1 million barrels in the week ending Aug. 16, leaving stockpiles near the upper range for this time of year.

Equities also pressed on prices, dropping modestly on Wednesday.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude shed $1.16 to reach $103.95 per barrel. Reformulated blendstock gasoline added 0.25 cents to reach $2.8209 per gallon. Home heating oil lost 0.19 cents to reach $3.0765 per gallon.

Natural gas gained 2.1 cents to $3.465 per million British thermal units.

At the pump, the national average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline was $3.533, down from Tuesday's $3.537, the AAA Fuel Gauge report said.

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