Crude oil prices hold steady

March 16, 2011 at 6:29 PM
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NEW YORK, March 16 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices fell Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, as commodity prices were held in check by news from earthquake-ravaged Japan.

Repercussions of the massive earthquake in Japan rattled through commodity markets for the third consecutive trading day. Factories in the industrial power, the world's third-largest economy, were largely shut down. Attention also has turned to troubled reactors at a Japanese nuclear power plant battered by the earthquake and tsunami that damaged the plant's backup cooling system.

Prices for April delivery light, sweet crude traded in a range from $97.04 to a high of $98.10 Wednesday. The price of a barrel of light, sweet crude settled at the low end of the range at $97.16 by the session's close.

Home heating oil prices lost 2.29 cents to $2.9743 per gallon. Reformulated blendstock gasoline shed 1.87 cents to $2.825 per gallon.

Henry Hub natural gas prices lost 3.2 cents to $3.938 per million British thermal units.

At the pump, the national average price of unleaded gasoline fell for the second consecutive day, dropping from Tuesday's $3.556 per gallon to $3.553, AAA said.

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