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Crude Oil Settles Lower

At one point, it surpassed $96 a barrel.

Updated from 8:55 a.m. EDT

Crude futures surpassed $96 a barrel overnight, but a volatile day for the market ended with oil down $1.04 from its prior settlement to finish at $93.49.

In electronic trading well before the New York floor session got started, light sweet crude for December delivery hit an all-time high at $96.24.

On Wednesday, oil settled at a record $94.53 as bullish inventory figures from the Energy Information Administration combined with the expectation for a rate cut to send prices soaring. The EIA said crude stores fell by 3.9 million barrels during the week ended Oct. 26, whereas analysts were expecting a 400,000-barrel increase.

The main cause to the disruption in inventories was the decline in oil production and exports from Mexican producer Pemex, according to Jim Williams, energy economist at WTRG Economics. The fact that most of the reduction occurred in the Gulf Coast region supports this argument.

"We may see a similar reduction in inventories next week because Mexico is still not back up to full speed after being hit by severe weather this week," he said.

Once the last session wrapped up, the buying momentum continued in extended action, but it gradually faded once $96 was exceeded.

As for other energy contracts, heating oil was down 2 cents to $2.51 a gallon, and reformulated gasoline was little changed at $2.34 a gallon. Natural gas was stronger by 31 cents at $8.64 per million British thermal units.

Among stocks,

Exxon Mobil

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was down 3.8% to $88.50 after missing analysts' profit estimates for the latest quarter.

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