Oil ends lower, following other commodities down as stocks surge; pump price slip slightly

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The price of oil fell Thursday, as investors sold off commodities as U.S. equity markets surged on improved economic expectations.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery fell 71 cents to finish at US$92.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gold, which investors often buy in uncertain economic times, fell more than $20 an ounce amid the encouraging economic news and rising stocks. Silver and platinum dropped as well. The metals sell-off in commodities markets helped pull down oil.

The U.S. government slightly revised upward its estimate of fourth-quarter economic growth. The U.S. economy grew at a 0.1 per cent annual rate from October through December, the Commerce Department said.

That was the weakest performance in nearly two years. But economists believe a steady housing rebound, stronger hiring and solid spending by consumers and businesses are pushing economic growth higher in the current quarter.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Labour Department said Thursday that claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, adding to the improving economic atmosphere.

Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, fell 49 cents to end at US$111.38 on the ICE Futures exchange In London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex, wholesale gasoline rose half a cent to finish at US$3.11 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), heating oil fell two cents to end at US$2.96 a gallon and natural gas rose five cents to finish at US$3.48 per 1,000 cubic feet.