Oil falls below $93 ahead of OPEC meeting

Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) — The price of oil fell below $93 a barrel Friday as brimming oil supplies more than offset data showing U.S. consumer spending on the rise. Traders were awaiting an OPEC announcement on production levels.

Benchmark crude for July delivery was down 80 cents to $92.81 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 48 cents to close at $93.61 per barrel on Thursday.

The U.S. economy grew at a modest 2.4 percent annual rate from January through March, slightly slower than initially estimated. However, consumer spending was stronger than first thought, roaring ahead at a 3.4 percent annual rate. That's the fastest spending growth in more than two years.

But the U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said the nation's supply of oil rose last week by 3 million barrels to 397.6 million barrels, the highest level since the government started collecting the data in 1978. Separately, the American Petroleum Institute said crude oil stocks rose by 4.4 million barrels to 395.1 million barrels.

Later Friday, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meets in Vienna to set production levels.

Julian Jessop of Capital Markets said in a commentary that "the bigger picture is that the cartel now ranks no higher than a distant fourth in the list of factors determining global oil prices."

Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oil varieties, fell 68 cents to $101.51 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 1.2 cents to $2.795 a gallon.

— Heating oil fell 2.2 cents to $2.823 per gallon.

— Natural gas fell 0.6 cent to $4.017 per 1,000 cubic feet.