Crude oil prices eased back Thursday, sliding back toward $103 per barrel after the government said stockpiles rose sharply in the week ending Saturday.
The Energy Information Administration said U.S. crude oil inventories had risen by 5.5 million barrels in the week, defying expectations. Market analysts had anticipated a slight draw on supplies.
On the New York Oil Mercantile Exchange, crude oil lost 74 cents to reach $103.36 per barrel. Reformulated blendstock gasoline prices added 1.39 cents to $2.6426 per gallon. Home heating oil gained 0.81 cents to $3.008 per gallon. Natural gas dropped 3 cents to reach $3.51 per million British thermal units.
At the pump, the national average price of unleaded gasoline fell to $3.376 per gallon from Wednesday's $3.385, AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report said.