Oil declines to below US$102 per barrel

By Pamela Sampson, AP

BANGKOK–The price of oil dropped below US$102 a barrel Wednesday after U.S. government workers were ordered off the job because of a budget impasse in Washington.

Benchmark oil for November delivery was down 29 cents to US$101.75 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 29 cents to close at US$102.04 on Tuesday.

Demand for oil in the U.S. could weaken if the shutdown curbs economic growth and continues to stop 800,000 federal workers from commuting. The workers were furloughed after U.S. lawmakers failed to agree on a budget measure to fund government operations after the fiscal year ended Monday.

Investors will monitor fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and fuels Wednesday when the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration issues its weekly report. The EIA says it will continue to operate despite the shutdown for several more days.

Data for the week ending Sept. 27 is expected to show a build of 2.4 million barrels in crude oil stocks and a draw of 1.4 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos. Brent crude, a benchmark used to price imported crude used by many U.S. refineries, fell 14 cents to US$107.80 in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 1.4 cents to US$2.597 per gallon.

— Natural gas fell 0.4 cent to US$3.605 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil rose 0.2 cent to US$2.957 per gallon.