Oil prices retreat as heating fuel inventories rise

Worries about winter supplies in the United States faded as US government report indicated a rise in stockpiles of heating fuel, pushing back crude oil prices. New York's light sweet crude for delivery in February fell to US$43.39 a barrel at the close on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, the price of Brent North Sea crude oil for delivery in February was at US$40.51 dollars a barrel. As the northern hemisphere is well into its winter season, potential for another cold snap exists for only another 6 weeks, so a lot of fears subsided over any shortage this winter. The Department of Energy reported distillate inventories -- mostly heating fuel and diesel -- rose 2.0 million barrels to 121.1 million for the week ending December 31. Heating fuel stocks alone increased by 1.2 million barrels to 50.1 million. However, crude stockpiles fell 3.3 million barrels to 291.8 million.
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