Oil prices fall for sixth straight day

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil fell Wednesday for a sixth day as the U.S. government reported crude supplies are the highest in 22 years.

Benchmark U.S. oil gave up 20 cents to finish at $96.81 per barrel in New York. The six-day drop is the longest for U.S. oil since July 2011.

Prices have been declining in reaction to new doubts about Europe’s ability to fix its economy and disappointing jobs growth in the U.S. And as slowing economies temper the demand for oil, the amount of crude in storage rises.

On Wednesday, the Energy Information Administration said increased oil imports and weaker domestic demand for petroleum helped boost the nation’s oil supply last week to 379.5 million barrels, the highest since 1990.

The Commerce Department also said U.S. wholesalers increased their stockpiles more slowly in March, hinting at a slowdown at the nation’s factories.

“There’s just an inherent mood out there for caution,” said Peter Donovan, a broker with Vantage Trading.

Saudi Arabia also is boosting supplies in an effort targeted toward pushing world oil prices lower. And Iran is scheduled to meet in two weeks with several other countries including the U.S. to talk about its nuclear program. That has eased fears of a protracted standoff that could slow oil shipments out of the Middle East.

At the pump, retail gasoline prices fell by more than a penny to a national average of $3.75 per gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service. A gallon of regular unleaded has dropped an average of 19 cents in about a month. Gasoline is 21 cents cheaper than it was at the same time last year.

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