Oil rises nearly 2 percent on big drop in US supplies

NEW YORK — The price of oil closed above $94 a barrel for the first time in two weeks on a big drop in supplies.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil for February delivery rose $1.58, or 1.7 percent, to $94.17 a barrel Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, rose 67 cents at $106.27.

The U.S. Energy Department reported that oil supplies fell by a larger-than-expected 7.7 million barrels last week. Analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill, expected a decline of 1.6 million barrels.

The drop marked the seventh consecutive decline in U.S. crude oil supplies.

Oil has risen 2.6 percent in the past two days. It started the year with steep declines because supplies of crude oil and fuel appeared ample enough to offset rising demand.

At the pump, the average price for a gallon of gasoline remained at $3.31. That’s up 8 cents from a month ago and penny more expensive than at this time last year.
In other energy futures trading in New York:
— Wholesale gasoline was flat at $2.63 a gallon.
— Natural gas fell 4 cents to $4.33 per 1,000 cubic feet
— Heating oil gained 4 cents to $2.98 a gallon.