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Oil fluctuates but stays above $107 per barrel

Pamela Sampson, AP Business Writer

FILE - In this Monday, June 10, 2013, file photo, an oil pump jack works at sunset in the desert oil fields of Sakhir, Bahrain. While the price of U.S. benchmark oil rose 58 cents to $107.43 per barrel in afternoon trading Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013 inflated by turmoil and increasing violence in the Middle East, ample global oil supplies are helping to keep the rise in check. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)

BANGKOK (AP) -- The price of oil fell Friday but remained above $107 per barrel amid fears of a potential supply disruption as violence in Egypt continues to spiral.

Benchmark crude for September delivery was down 14 cents to $107.19 at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 48 cents to close at $107.33 per barrel on Thursday.

Brent crude, a benchmark used to set prices of imported crude purchased by many U.S. refineries, fell 15 cents to $109.44 per barrel.

The ouster in early July of Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi has helped lift crude prices, reflecting the risk of a supply disruption from the country that controls the Suez Canal. Clashes between police and Morsi's supporters killed more than 600 people Wednesday, and the country is bracing for more violence.

Egypt is not a major oil exporter, but traders worry that the violence could spill over to more important oil-exporting countries or disrupt the Suez Canal, a major trade route.

Carl Larry of Oil Outlooks and Opinions said in an email commentary that "the timing with the Middle East issues are terrible" and added that "the Suez Canal is not the main passageway for oil, but it is a life line for a lot of Middle Eastern countries to ply their trade and keep their economies from collapsing."

Oil passed $100 per barrel in early July for the first time since September as Morsi was being ousted. It reached a high for the year of $108.15 on July 19 as Libyan output fell due to strikes at oil facilities.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Heating oil was steady at $3.079 a gallon.

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.6 cent to $2.849 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 2.5 cents to $3.394 per 1,000 cubic feet.