The price of oil fell toward $95 a barrel Thursday, dragged down by evidence that U.S. crude supplies are rising while global economic growth is seen slowing.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for July delivery was down 47 cents to $95.41 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 50 cents to close at $95.88 a barrel on Wednesday.
Evidence of ample supplies worked to press down prices. The U.S. Energy Department reported Wednesday that oil supplies rose last week by 2.5 million barrels, or 0.6 percent, to 393.8 million barrels, which is 2.4 percent above year-ago levels.
Global demand is also expected to remain sluggish this year. The World Bank late on Wednesday scaled back its expectations for global economic growth from 2.4 percent to 2.2 percent this year. "While there are markers of hope in the financial sector, the slowdown in the real economy is turning out to be unusually protracted," said World Bank Chief Economist Kaushik Basu. "This is reflected in the stubbornly high unemployment in industrialized nations, with unemployment in the eurozone actually rising, and in the slowing growth in emerging economies."
The World Bank now expects the economy of the eurozone, the 17 countries sharing the euro currency, to contract by 0.6 percent this year. Its previous forecast was of a 0.1 percent contraction. On Wednesday, the International Energy Agency cut its forecast for global crude demand in 2013 by 80,000 barrels a day. It now expects the world to consume 90.6 million barrels a day this year, 785,000 barrels a day more than in 2012.
Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oil varieties, was down 26 cents to $103.23 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London. In other energy futures trading on the Nymex: — Wholesale gasoline added 0.28 cent at $2.8129 a gallon.
— Heating oil fell 0.27 cents to $2.8925 per gallon. — Natural gas lost 4 cents to $3.737 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.