Oil rises above US$103 a barrel after fall in supplies at key trading hub

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The price of oil rose above US$103 barrel Thursday on a drop in supplies at the main U.S. oil trading hub and signs of growing gasoline demand in the United States.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for July delivery rose 86 cents to close at US$103.58 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Wednesday, the Nymex contract dropped $1.39 to close at US$102.72.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, rose 16 cents to close at US$109.97 a barrel in London.

The Energy Department said Thursday that U.S. supplies fell by 1.5 million barrels last week in Cushing, Okla., where U.S. benchmark crude is priced, although overall U.S. inventories rose by 1.7 million barrels.

Gasoline supplies fell by 1.8 million barrels, suggesting demand for fuel is strong and refiners will need to buy more oil to keep up.

Internationally, prices were still supported by the crisis in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia rebels shot down a government military helicopter, killing 14 soldiers. Ukraine is a main transit route for Russian energy shipments to Europe.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex, wholesale gasoline was rose 0.8 of a cent to close at US$2.996 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), heating oil fell a penny to close at US$2.920 a gallon and natural gas fell 5.6 cents to close at US$4.559 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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