Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

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

Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.83%3.59%
15 yr fixed2.94%2.70%
5/1 ARM2.94%2.86%
30 yr refi3.78%3.64%
15 yr refi2.98%2.84%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,851.51 145.46 0.82%
Nasdaq 4,894.89 33.83 0.70%
S&P 500 2,090.54 14.48 0.70%
Treasuries 1.87 0.01 0.59%
Data as of 4:59pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 14.92 0.24 1.63%
Chesapeake Energy Co... 4.35 0.30 7.41%
Freeport-McMoRan Inc... 11.65 0.54 4.86%
Hewlett Packard Ente... 17.35 1.10 6.77%
Apple Inc 99.62 1.72 1.76%
Data as of 4:15pm ET

Sections

Shari Redstone seems to be at the center of the turmoil engulfing Viacom and her father Sumner Redstone. More

Andrew Crider lost his welding business and his home when the real estate market crashed. Now the Nevada man is offended by comments Donald Trump made showing the billionaire rooted for the housing collapse. More

As the Verizon workers' strike continues to drag on, shares of the telecom giant have lagged the broader market -- as well as top competitors AT&T and Comcast. More