Oil slips, but stays higher for the week

Crude oil slips below $95 a barrel, Brent rises, as focus returns to nuclear talks with Iran

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- The price of oil slipped to just under $95 Friday but still finished the week with a gain of $1 a barrel.

Benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery fell 60 cents to close at $94.84 in trading in New York. The weekly increase from $93.84 a week ago was largely due to an improving U.S. jobs picture, which would mean more drivers making the daily commute.

Brent crude, an international benchmark used to price oil used in many U.S. refineries, rose 97 cents to $111.05 in London. Brent has risen 4 percent since Tuesday as nuclear talks with Iran have dragged on without a deal that could relieve sanctions that have kept a substantial amount of Iranian crude from world markets.

Meanwhile, gasoline prices in the U.S. are in the midst of an unusual increase for this time of year.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline rose 2 cents Friday to $3.24 according to AAA, OPIS and Wright Express. The price has risen 5 cents a gallon over the last 10 days, but is still 10 cents cheaper than a month ago and 20 cents cheaper than a year ago.

Tom Kloza, Chief Oil Analyst at GasBuddy.com, says the rise may continue for a few more days, making travel a bit more expensive for holiday drivers next week. But he doesn't expect the rise to last long, or be very dramatic.

"This has nothing to do with the holiday," he said.

A handful of refinery problems in the Gulf Coast have slowed output, an increase in exports has reduced supplies, and the price of ethanol, which is blended into gasoline, nearly doubled over the past two weeks.

In Geneva, negotiators are trying to reach an agreement that would limit Tehran's atomic program. In exchange, the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany are offering a gradual easing of sanctions that has prevented Iran from selling as much oil as it wants. A senior U.S. official has told reporters that Iran is losing $5 billion a month in oil sales.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline slipped 2 cents to $2.73 a gallon.

— Heating oil rose added 3 cents to $3.04 a gallon.

— Natural gas rose 7 cents to $3.77 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Pablo Gorondi in Budapest contributed to this report.

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