Oil eases, but holds above $100 a barrel

chart_ws_commodity_energy_oil.top.png By Ben Rooney, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Oil prices backed off a 2-1/2 year high Thursday, but held firmly above $100 a barrel as escalating violence in Libya continues to fuel concerns about further supply disruptions.

The benchmark U.S. oil contract, West Texas Intermediate, for April delivery was down 50 cents to $101.73 a barrel. Oil prices jumped 2.6% Wednesday to close above $102 a barrel for the first time since September 2008.

Brent crude, the main European oil contract, fell 56 cents to $115.79 a barrel.

Oil prices came under pressure following reports that the Arab League is considering Venezuela's offer to send mediators to Libya, where fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi continued Thursday.

Gadhaif's forces bombed two towns in eastern Libya on Thursday, witnesses told CNN, although a government spokesman said the reports were false. Bombs were reportedly dropped near an oil facility in al-Brega and on military camps in Ajdabiya.

While the conflict in Libya has disrupted supply from the North African nation, many investors are concerned that more oil could be taken off the world market if the unrest spreads across the Middle East.

Anti-government protests have roiled Yemen, Oman, Bahrain and other nations in the region after protesters in Egypt and Tunisia pushed out unpopular leaders earlier this year. Iran has also seen a renewal of the protest movement that has simmered in the oil-rich nation since the 2009 election.

"Even though some oil has been loading from Libyan oil terminals in the last few days, concerns remain that output could be totally shut," said Tom Pawlicki, an analyst at MF Global, in a report.

"So far, Saudi Arabia has made up for the shortfall by exercising its spare capacity," he continued. "However, a 'day of rage' is planned for March 11th, and until that day comes to pass, it's likely that oil prices will remain buoyed."

-- The CNN Wire Service contributed to this report.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.27%4.22%
15 yr fixed3.27%3.27%
5/1 ARM3.35%3.48%
30 yr refi4.23%4.20%
15 yr refi3.25%3.25%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,086.63 -26.91 -0.16%
Nasdaq 4,473.70 17.68 0.40%
S&P 500 1,987.01 3.48 0.18%
Treasuries 2.46 -0.00 -0.08%
Data as of 7:23am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 97.19 2.47 2.61%
Facebook Inc 71.29 2.02 2.92%
Microsoft Corp 44.87 0.04 0.09%
EMC Corp 28.75 0.23 0.81%
Bank of America Corp... 15.52 0.00 0.00%
Data as of Jul 23

Sections

McDonald's is standing by a troubled meat supplier, even after allegations the company was selling tainted and expired meat. More

With cost-cutting at the U.S. Postal Service more letter carriers are working later and later to deliver your mail. About 38% of mail is delivered after 5 p.m. in cities nationwide. And areas like Atlanta, Washington and South Florida, it's 70%. More

Like many of its Silicon Valley peers, Twitter workers are mostly male and white according to a diversity report released by the company Wednesday. More

As 65,000 IDF reservists are tapped to serve in Gaza, Israeli's tech community tries to maintain business as usual, amidst bombs, sirens and employees called to war. More

Chinese buyers are now the biggest international players in the U.S. housing market and some states are seeing billions of dollars in real estate deals as a result. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.