Oil prices down as Libya plans to resume output

The price of oil slid to around $97 a barrel Friday on the possibility of new supplies from Libya and expectations the Federal Reserve will cut its stimulus program.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery was down 49 cents to $97.01 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 6 cents on Thursday to settle at $97.50.

The Libyan militia that shut down most of the country's oil terminals for months has said the terminals will reopen Dec. 15. Libya has been losing millions of dollars every day after production dropped from 1.4 billion barrels a day to around 250,000 barrel a day since the closure.

Libya has said it hopes to increase output to 2 million barrels a day once unrest ebbs. OPEC members may have to reduce their production to keep prices from dropping sharply and hurting oil revenues that underpin their economies.

Oil prices were also under pressure from expectations that the Fed could decide next week to reduce its $85 billion monthly bond purchases meant to stimulate the economy. Oil prices have generally benefited from the stimulus, which has helped keep the dollar relatively weak, making crude cheaper for investors using other currencies. Commodities like oil have also attracted traders looking for higher returns than those of low-yielding bonds.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was down 30 cents to $108.08 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London. In other energy futures trading on the Nymex: — Wholesale gasoline was up 0.49 cent to $2.6397 a gallon.

— Heating oil was little changed at $2.978 gallon — Natural gas dropped 4.6 cents to $4.363 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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