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Oil prices up as market awaits Fed statement

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- The price of oil was up slightly around midday as the market waits to hear from the Federal Reserve about the future of its stimulus program for the U.S. economy.

Benchmark oil for April delivery gained 22 cents to $92.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, rose 61 cents to $108.06 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

The Fed ends a two-day policy meeting on Wednesday. It is expected to keep interest rates low and maintain other measures meant to stimulate economic growth — feeding expectations of rising oil demand.

Earlier the Energy Department said crude oil supplies declined last week by 1.3 million barrels, or 0.3 percent, to 382.7 million barrels, which is 10.5 percent above year-ago levels. Analysts were expecting supplies to increase. Although those figures sound bullish for oil prices, futures are lower since the report came.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

—Wholesale gasoline was flat at $3.05 a gallon.

—Heating oil rose 1 cent to $2.97 a gallon.

—Natural gas fell 5 cents to $3.92 per 1,000 cubic feet.


Pamela Sampson in Bangkok and Pablo Gorondi in Budapest contributed to this report.