Oil Prices Slip Friday, But End the Week Up $1

NEW YORK (AP) -

The price of oil slipped below $95 a barrel Friday, but still finished the week with a gain of $1 a barrel.

Benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery fell 60 cents to close at $94.84 in trading in New York. The increase from $93.84 a week ago was largely due to an improving U.S. jobs picture, which would mean more drivers making the daily commute.

Brent crude, an international benchmark used to price oil used in many U.S. refineries, rose 97 cents to $111.05 in London.

Meanwhile, gasoline prices in the U.S. are in the midst of an unusual increase for this time of year.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline rose 2 cents Friday to $3.24, according to AAA, OPIS and Wright Express. The price has risen 5 cents a gallon over the last 10 days, but is still 10 cents cheaper than a month ago and 20 cents cheaper than a year ago.

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at GasBuddy.com, says the rise may continue for a few more days, making travel a bit more expensive for drivers. But he doesn’t expect the rise to last long, or be very dramatic.

“This has nothing to do with the holiday,” he said.

A handful of refinery problems in the Gulf Coast have slowed output, an increase in exports has reduced supplies, and the price of ethanol, which is blended into gasoline, nearly doubled over the past two weeks.

In other energy commodities, wholesale gasoline for January fell less than a penny to $2.71 a gallon, heating oil rose 3.4 cents to $3.04 a gallon and January natural gas rose 7 cents to $3.81 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Agricultural commodities were mixed. Corn fell less than a cent to $4.223 a bushel, and wheat for March delivery rose 2 cents to $6.57 a bushel. Soybeans rose 28 cents to $13.195 a bushel.

Metals were also mixed. December gold rose 50 cents to $1,244.10 an ounce. Silver for December delivery fell 7.2 cents to $19.862 an ounce. December copper rose 2.3 cents to $3.214 a pound.

January platinum fell $9 to $1,382.70 an ounce. December palladium rose 80 cents to $714.05 an ounce.