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Oil price rises after US supplies fall

The price of oil rose above US$102 per barrel Thursday after a U.S. inventories report showed a larger-than-expected drop in crude oil supplies.

Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery was up 85 cents at US$102.05 a barrel at 0855 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added US$1.24 to US$101.20 on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 7.5 million barrels to 375 million barrels in the week of July 11. The fall was bigger than expected. Analysts had forecast a drop of 3 million barrels, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Last month, supply concerns caused by conflicts in Iraq jacked up the price of oil to above US$107 per barrel. But the price drifted lower as Iraqi insurgents failed to advance and oil exports remained unaffected. Libya's comeback to the oil market also pushed the oil price down.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, gained 30 cents to US$107.47 on the ICE exchange in London.

In other Nymex trading:

— Wholesale gasoline was steady at US$2.855 a gallon.

— Natural gas dropped 2.4 cents to US$4.095 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil rose 0.5 cent to US$2.875 a gallon.

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