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MICENTRAL.COM “brought to you by the Michigan Newspaper Network”  

Jul 25, 6:01 PM EDT

Oil rises just above $102 a barrel

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The price of oil traded around $102 a barrel on Friday, nearly unchanged, as worries over supplies and geopolitical tensions eased.

Oil prices had slipped Thursday after spiking earlier in the week on lower U.S. inventories and tensions in Ukraine and the Middle East.

Benchmark U.S. crude for September delivery rose 2 cents to $102.09 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Thursday, the Nymex contract had dropped $1.05 to close at $102.07.

Lower-than-expected U.S. crude inventories in a weekly Energy Department report had driven prices up on Wednesday, but expectations of stronger growth in demand were later countered as gasoline supplies were nearly three times larger than predicted.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose $1.32 to $108.39 on the ICE Futures exchange in London Friday.

Oil prices were also under pressure from a downgraded growth forecast from the International Monetary Fund. The IMF now projects global growth of 3.4 percent this year, down from April expectations of 3.7 percent growth, as it sees economic expansion slowing in the United States, Russia and developing countries.

While concerns over the clashes in eastern Ukraine and Israel's invasion of the Gaza Strip have helped keep oil above $100 a barrel, some experts said there seemed to be no new grounds for another significant increase.

"The numerous sources of geopolitical crisis could have a negative impact on demand," said analysts at Commerzbank in Frankfurt in a note to clients. "What is more, there have so far been no significant supply outages despite all the conflicts, even including the situation in Iraq."

In other energies trading on Nymex:

- Wholesale gasoline rose 2.9 cents to $2.87 a gallon.

- Natural gas lost fell 6.6 cents to $3.78 per 1,000 cubic feet.

- Heating oil added 4.5 cents to $2.92 a gallon.

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Associated Press reporter Pablo Gorondi contributed to this report.

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