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Oil around $89 ahead of Obama, Bernanke speeches
Benchmark crude around $89 a barrel ahead of Obama, Bernanke speeches on jobs and the economy
By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) ' Oil was around $89 per barrel ahead of major speeches Thursday on jobs and the economy by President Barack Obama and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Benchmark crude fell 17 cents to $89.16 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price many international varieties of oil, rose 31 cents to $116.07 in London.

Investors hope to get a clearer picture of where the economy is headed from Obama and Bernanke. Both are expected to talk about how the government will try to reduce unemployment and stimulate growth in coming months.

"We always leave open the possibility of a shocker" announcement that will have an immediate impact, independent analyst Jim Ritterbusch said. "But there's not a heck of a lot more they can do."

Oil has hovered between about $80 and $90 per barrel for more than a month as high U.S. unemployment and the debt crisis in Europe eroded hopes for a robust recovery in the second half of the year. Prices surged this week, mostly on expectations that the hurricane season would continue to slow down oil production in the Gulf of Mexico and refining along the Gulf Coast.

Meanwhile, gasoline pump prices held steady at a national average of $3.655 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. A gallon of regular is nearly 98 cents higher than a year ago.

On Thursday the government reported that U.S. oil supplies dropped by 4 million barrels last week, which was more than analysts expected. Part of that drop comes as refineries trimmed imports by more than a million barrels per day.

The government also said that natural gas supplies grew more than expected last week.

In other energy trading, heating oil fell 2 cents to $3.0538 per gallon and gasoline futures lost a penny at $2.8931 per gallon. Natural gas increased 6 cents to $3.997 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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