NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices slipped back below $96 a barrel Friday afternoon, reversing course after rising earlier in the day.
Benchmark crude for March delivery fell 11 cents to finish at $95.72 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose as high as $96.57 in the morning.
U.S., drivers still can't catch a break at the pump. The average price for a gallon of gas rose a penny to $3.57. That's up 27 cents from a month ago and 8 cents more than last year at this time.
Drivers in Massachusetts who are filling up ahead of a massive blizzard that could dump up to 3 feet of snow are paying an average of $3.69. Connecticut drivers are paying around $3.90, while the average pump price in New York is $3.92 a gallon. Local television coverage showed lines of cars at gas stations reminiscent of those seen after Superstorm Sandy.
Once they fill up and stock up on groceries, many people in the Northeast might not drive again for a day or more. Demand for gasoline should drop, supplies should rise and prices in the region should drop a bit, says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for Oil Price Information Service.
"The simple impact (these storms) have is that they destroy demand for a period of time," Kloza says.
The brunt of the storm is not expected to hit refineries around New York and Philadelphia the way that Superstorm Sandy did, so no supply disruptions are expected. If New England ports get snowed in for a few days, it could delay shipments of gasoline by barge, which could lead to reduced supplies, Kloza says.
The storm could bring a break in gasoline prices after a steady march upward in recent weeks. Kloza thinks that later in February and in March prices will rise as they do most years, but perhaps not as fast, because prices have already climbed so high.