The price of oil barely budged Wednesday, while natural gas plunged to the lowest level since late September.Benchmark oil slipped 5 cents to end at $93.10 per barrel in New York trading. After rising on the year’s first trading day following the resolution of a budget standoff in Washington, oil has been holding around $93. That hasn’t been the case with natural gas. The fuel has dropped 7 percent since the start of the year as forecasts point to warmer than expected weather in parts of the U.S. About half of the nation’s households use natural gas for heat.
Natural gas futures closed down 10.5 cents, or 3.3 percent, to finish at $3.11 per 1,000 cubic feet. The price had been at or above $3.20 since Sept. 26. For oil, a report of rising U.S. crude supplies offset a forecast for higher aluminum demand this year from Alcoa. The Energy Information Agency said that U.S. crude supplies grew by 1.3 million barrels last week, while gasoline stocks increased by 7.4 million barrels, or 3.3 percent. The gas supply was significantly above analysts’ expectations.
Oil supplies are about 8 percent higher than a year ago, and oil production in the U.S. — at 7 million barrels per day — is at levels not seen since the 1990s.