The price of oil fell below $94 a barrel Wednesday ahead of the release of figures expected to show an increase in U.S. crude stockpiles.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for May delivery was down 62 cents to $93.58 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 84 cents to finish at $94.20 a barrel on Tuesday.
Oil investors are waiting for fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and fuels when the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration releases its report — the market benchmark — later.
On Tuesday, a report from the American Petroleum Institute said that U.S. stocks of crude oil rose by a surprisingly large 5.1 million barrels last week, far above the increase of 1.4 million barrels expected by analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
An annual 2.1 percent drop in March of crude oil imports by China also weighed on oil prices.
Brent crude, which sets the price of oil used by many U.S. refineries to make gasoline, was down 48 cents to $105.75 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline fell 3.73 cents to $2.9051 per gallon.
— Natural gas added 4.5 cents to $4.062 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil lost 0.45 cent to $2.9568 per gallon.
Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.
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