NEW YORK, N.Y. – The price of oil fell Wednesday, as a drop in metals commodities overflowed to crude markets and stocks retreated from five-year highs.
Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery dropped $2.14, or 2.2 per cent, to $94.96 a barrel in midday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price many international varieties of oil imported by U.S. refineries, fell $1.54 to US$115.98 a barrel in London.
The stock market backed off on Wednesday as well, with the major indexes slightly lower at midday.
The U.S. Commerce Department said housing starts slowed in January from December, although applications for building permits continued to rise, pointing to more recovery for the housing market this year. Many analysts expected the decline in January starts after a sharp rise in December, with most of the drop in apartment construction. Single-family home starts were slightly higher last month.
Oil prices were undercut by analysts’ expectations for higher U.S. crude supplies when the U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration releases its weekly inventory report on Thursday. Analysts on average forecast a rise of two million barrels, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex, heating oil fell three cents to US$3.15 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), wholesale gasoline fell six cents to US$3.06 a gallon and natural gas rose one cent to US$3.28 per 1,000 cubic feet.