Oil Falls as US Gov’t Shutdown Hits 3rd Day

NEW YORK (AP) -

The price of oil fell Thursday, as the U.S. government shutdown dragged into a third day.

The benchmark oil contract for November delivery fell 79 cents, to close at $103.31 a barrel, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Markets have been weighing the impact of a partial shutdown of the U.S. government this week, after a congressional dispute over funding for President Barack Obama’s health care program. There are concerns that a prolonged halt to government activities could reduce demand for energy and hurt confidence in the economy.

Economic indicators did not help, either. The Labor Department reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits remained near six-year lows, but while employers have stopped laying off workers, the creation of new jobs has slowed in recent months. Also, a survey showed disappointing growth at U.S. service industries.

Brent crude, a benchmark used to price imported crude used by many U.S. refineries, slipped 19 cents to $109 in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

  •  Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $2.64 per gallon.
  •  Natural gas dropped 4 cents to $3.50 per 1,000 cubic feet.
  •  Heating oil rose 1 cent to $3.00 per gallon.