The price of oil barely budged Thursday. But natural gas futures soared and U.S. drivers again saw higher numbers at the gas pump.
Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery slipped 2 cents to $100.37 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. U.S. economic indicators were mostly downbeat on Thursday, suggesting weak demand. A report from the International Energy Agency gave oil some support. The agency raised slightly its 2014 forecast for global demand to 92.6 million barrels a day, 125,000 barrels a day above its previous expectations from a month ago.
Natural gas futures jumped 40 cents, or 8 percent, to $5.22 per 1,000 cubic feet. The Energy Department said supplies fell by 237 billion cubic feet last week, more than the 230 billion cubic feet decline predicted by analysts.
Meanwhile, U.S. drivers are paying 6 cents more per gallon on average than a week ago. The nationwide average climbed 1 penny Thursday to $3.33 a gallon. In Houston Thursday, the average was $3.125 a gallon, up from $3.102 Wednesday, according to AAA.
Brent crude, which is used to set prices for international varieties of crude, fell 6 cents to $108.73 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading in New York: — Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $2.78 per gallon. — Heating oil added 2 cents to $3.03 a gallon.