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Oil dips below $103 as diplomacy on Syria advances

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BANGKOK (AP) -- Oil prices fell Friday, a day after the U.N. Security Council made progress in the quest to get Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons.

Benchmark oil for November delivery fell 34 cents to $102.69 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The council's five permanent members on Thursday agreed to a resolution calling for Syria to get rid of its chemical weapons. That helped ease fears of an escalation in Syria's civil war since the U.S. has been threatening to attack Syria in retaliation for what Washington says was a chemical gas attack by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad against civilians in suburban Damascus.

The prospect of an attack, and the potential for a disruption in oil supply routes, caused oil prices to spike in recent weeks. Prices have gradually fallen in recent days as diplomacy over Syria advanced. The progress at the U.N. on Thursday maintained the downward trend on the price of oil, said Ken Hasegawa, energy analyst at Newedge Brokerage in Tokyo.

Upbeat news about the U.S. economy pushed prices higher Thursday. The contract for benchmark crude gained 37 cents Thursday to close at $103.03 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil had dropped $5.41, or 5 percent, over the five previous trading sessions.

Oil prices rose as data showed that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 5,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 305,000, the second-lowest level in six years. The U.S. economy, meanwhile, was confirmed to have grown an annualized 2.5 percent in the April-June period.

Brent crude, the benchmark for international crudes used by many U.S. refineries, fell 13 cents to $109.08 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

- Wholesale gasoline rose 1.6 cents to $2.6903 per gallon.

- Natural gas rose marginally to $3.57 per 1,000 cubic feet.

- Heating oil fell less than 0.1 cent to $2.9927 per gallon.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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