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Oil ends month with 6 percent drop

October 31, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil fell for a third straight day Thursday, and finished October with a second consecutive monthly decline.

Benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery fell 39 cents to close $96.38 a barrel at on the New York Mercantile Exchange. For the month, oil dropped $5.95 a barrel or 5.8 percent.

Ample supplies of oil have weighed on the price. The Energy Department said this week that U.S. supplies increased 4.1 million barrels last week. Over five weeks, supplies have risen by more than 25 million barrels, suggesting muted demand.

The outcome of a two-day meeting of the Federal Reserve’s policy committee added to the pressure on oil prices. The central bank’s positive tone on the economy indicated that it might be prepared to slow its bond purchases by early next year, sooner than some have assumed.

The withdrawal of stimulus would result in higher interest rates and a stronger U.S. dollar, making oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international crude also used by U.S. refineries, fell $1.02 to $108.84 on the ICE exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $2.63 a gallon.

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

— Natural gas lost 4 cents to $3.58 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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