NEW YORK — Oil prices fell Friday as Wall Street stumbled for a third straight day and the dollar strengthened — making crude contracts tougher to buy with foreign currency.
At midday in New York, benchmark crude for March delivery lost 85 cents to $75.23 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude for March delivery fell 89 cents to $73.69 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
Crude prices have tumbled this month, pulling down gasoline prices with them as weekly government reports showed the U.S. hasn't regained its appetite for petroleum. The economy may be slowly recovering, but Americans aren't burning more fuel than they did last year.
Meanwhile, the Energy Information Administration said Thursday that the nation's gasoline supply ballooned by 3.9 million barrels last week as demand fell for the fourth straight week.
U.S. refineries, which have struggled to pass along the higher crude costs to motorists, continue to produce less gasoline. They've cut operations to the lowest levels on record, at a time not related to a hurricane, according to analyst Stephen Schork. Refineries generally curtail operations when those big storms hit to minimize damage.
In other Nymex trading in February contracts, heating oil fell 1.92 cents to $1.9664 a gallon, while gasoline gave up less than a penny to $1.9751 a gallon. Natural gas futures added 19.2 cents, more than 3 percent, to $5.807 per 1,000 cubic feet. (AP)