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Oil slides below $108 as Syria talks continue

The Associated Press

FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, file photo, oil pumps work in the desert oil fields of Sakhir, Bahrain. Oil prices fell slightly Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, as the U.S. and Russia held discussions in Geneva aimed at getting Syria to give up its chemical weapons. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)

NEW YORK (AP) -- The price of oil eased below $108 a barrel Friday as the U.S. and Russia held discussions in Geneva aimed at getting Syria to give up its chemical weapons.

Meanwhile, the average price for gasoline in the U.S. dropped another penny to $3.54. That was the price three weeks ago, before the U.S. ratcheted up talk of military intervention in Syria.

By midday, benchmark oil for October delivery was down 73 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $107.69 a barrel. So far this week, oil is down 2.5 percent after closing last Friday at a two-year high of $110.53.

American and Russian chemical weapons experts huddled in a Geneva hotel to haggle over technical details that will be critical to reach a deal for securing Syria's chemical weapons arsenal. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met to examine political developments and plot a new international conference in Geneva to support the creation of a Syrian transitional government.

"I will say on behalf of the United States that President Obama is deeply committed to a negotiated solution with respect to Syria meeting with Lavrov and we know that Russia is likewise," Kerry said after his meeting with Lavrov.

Syria is not a major oil producer, but oil traders say the possibility of a wider conflict could interrupt production and shipping routes in the Middle East and cause prices to rise. In recent days, oil prices have risen and receded in accordance with the perceived likelihood of a U.S. military attack.

At the pump, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is now $3.54 after dropping 4 cents over the past week. The price is down 33 cents compared with this time last year.

The November Brent contract, the benchmark for international crudes, was down 45 cents to $111.08 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline lost 1 cent to $2.76 per gallon.

— Natural gas rose 2 cents to $3.66 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil retreated 2 cents to $3.10 per gallon.


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