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 fixed3.98%3.95%
15 yr fixed3.05%3.05%
5/1 ARM3.32%3.71%
30 yr refi4.05%4.03%
15 yr refi3.12%3.11%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,805.41 127.51 0.76%
Nasdaq 4,483.72 30.92 0.69%
S&P 500 1,964.58 13.76 0.71%
Treasuries 2.27 -0.00 -0.09%
Data as of 4:49am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 13.78 -0.62 -4.31%
Microsoft Corp 46.13 1.11 2.47%
Apple Inc 105.22 0.39 0.37%
Bank of America Corp... 16.72 0.12 0.72%
Yahoo! Inc 43.50 0.90 2.11%
Data as of Oct 24

Sections

New York headlines took a straight forward and direct approach with NYC's Ebola news. More

The midterm elections are around the corner, and the economy remains a top concern. With unemployment down and inflation low, why do people still feel the economy stinks? More

Shares of Facebook recently topped $80. They've more than quadrupled from their post-IPO lows of two years ago. Can Mark Zuckerberg keep the momentum in mobile going? More

Host a furniture market. Here's how small town High Point, N.C. rakes in this much money -- twice a year. More

If you're looking to fly this holiday season, the clock's ticking to get the best prices. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices 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.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.