Oil stays flat on Fed news
NEW YORK — The price of oil was flat Wednesday as a big drop in heating oil supplies was offset by a decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve to further reduce its stimulus program.
Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery slipped 5 cents to close at $97.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Supplies of distillate fuels, including heating oil, declined sharply last week as the U.S. Northeast shivered through a cold spell. The Energy Department said distillate supplies dropped by 4.6 million barrels, twice what analysts expected. With cold weather expected the next few weeks, refiners will be demanding more crude to make heating oil.
The supply report helped push oil slightly higher in the afternoon. But that gain disappeared when the Fed said it will cut its monthly bond purchases to $65 billion because of a strengthening U.S. economy.