Oil falls 1st time this week; natural gas jumps

Oil slips below $97 a barrel, but still ends week with gain; natural gas rockets up 10 percent

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- The price of oil slipped a bit Friday, but still finished the week with a gain of more than 2 percent. A sell-off in global equity markets may have weighed on oil traders' sentiments, producing the first losing day of the week.

Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery fell 68 cents to close at $96.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. For the week, oil gained $2.27 a barrel, or 2.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the price of natural gas soared nearly 10 percent. The frigid temperatures across much of the Midwest and Northeast have homeowners and businesses cranking up the heat. At the same, the recent combination of snow, ice and cold temperatures has impeded some natural gas production.

Natural gas jumped 45 cents to reach $5.18 per 1,000 cubic feet, the highest close since June 2010.

At the gas station, the average price for a gallon of gasoline stayed at $3.29. That's up 3 cents from a month ago, but down 3 cents from this time last year.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil, rose 30 cents to $107.88 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline was flat at $2.66 a gallon.

— Heating oil rose 6 cents to $3.14 a gallon.

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