Oil prices fell Friday as fresh U.S. economic data and higher-than-expected crude supplies pointed to weak demand.
Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was down 48 cents to $99.87 a barrel at 0900 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract eased 2 cents to close at $100.35 on Thursday.
A report showed that cold weather caused U.S. retail sales to drop in January for a second straight month as Americans spent less on autos and clothing and at restaurants during a brutally cold month. Weekly jobless claims were also higher than expected.
The severe cold weather has mixed influences on energy prices. It has boosted consumption of fuels such as heating oil, but more people staying at home suggest less travel and less use of gasoline.
The Energy Department said crude stockpiles rose 3.3 million barrels last week, more than analysts had been expecting, while distillate stocks, which include heating fuels and diesel, fell far less than anticipated.
Brent crude, which is used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was down 24 cents to $108.29 on the ICE exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading in New York:
— Wholesale gasoline shed 1 cent to $2.939 per gallon.
— Heating oil was steady at $2.991 a gallon.
— Natural gas gained 11.6 cents to $5.339 per 1,000 cubic feet.
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