Oil prices up as crude in storage falls

Oil prices climbed above $73 a barrel Wednesday, tugged higher mostly by a rising stock market and a falling dollar.

Benchmark crude for January delivery added 67 cents to $73.29 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude for January delivery rose a penny to $75.20 on the ICE Futures exchange.

The government also released a' mixed report on U.S. fuel supplies. The Energy Information Administration said U.S. crude supplies dropped last week, though analysts said that typically happens toward the end of the year as refineries cut down on their inventories.

The report also noted that gasoline supplies increased while the nation's consumption of petroleum products fell to its lowest level since the week of July 10.

With little direction from the EIA, the falling dollar helped boost oil prices. Crude is priced in U.S. currency, and a drop in the greenback makes it easier for investors holding foreign currencies to buy energy commodities.

At the pump, retail gas prices dipped slightly to a new national average of $2.633 a gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. A gallon of regular unleaded is 3.1 cents cheaper than it was last month, but it is 93.5 cents more expensive than a year ago.

In other Nymex trading in January contracts, heating oil lost less than a penny to $1.983 a gallon while gasoline lost less than a penny to $1.9225 a gallon. Natural gas gave up 5.7 cents to $5.057 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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