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Oil Ends Lower As Commodities Retreat

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ The price of oil fell Thursday, as investors sold off commodities with the stock market surging toward a record high.

Benchmark crude for April delivery fell 71 cents to finish at $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 with encouraging economic news and a rising stocks. Silver and platinum dropped as well. The metals sell-off in commodities markets helped pull down oil.

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

The Labor Department said Thursday that claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, adding to the improving economic atmosphere.

Pump prices fell for only the third time in the last 41 days, and by just a trickle. The average for a gallon of gas slid to $3.782 a gallon from $3.786. The price is still 5 cents more than it was a year ago, and 42 cents higher than it was just a month earlier.

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

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

â¿¿ Wholesale gasoline rose half a cent to finish at $3.11 a gallon.

â¿¿ Heating oil fell 2 cents to end at $2.96 a gallon.

â¿¿ Natural gas rose 5 cents to finish at $3.48 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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