NEW YORK — The price of oil edged lower Thursday, a day after recording its biggest gain of the new year.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil for February delivery slipped 21 cents to close at $93.96 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract surged $1.58 to settle at $94.17 in New York on Wednesday. That 1.7 percent increase was only the third gain for oil since Jan. 1, and by far the biggest.
Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, fell 52 cents to $105.75.
The market was buoyed Wednesday by a report from the U.S. Energy Department that showed oil supplies fell by 7.7 million barrels last week, the seventh straight weekly decline. Analysts expected a more modest drop of 1.6 million barrels.
On Thursday, OPEC said in a report that it expects global demand for oil to increase by around 1 million barrels a day, up from an increase of 900,000 barrels a day in 2013.
Supply is also on the rise, the organization said. It revised up slightly its estimates for oil supplies from non-OPEC countries for both 2013 and 2014.
In the U.S., drivers paid a little less for gasoline, as the nationwide average price for a gallon fell 1 penny to $3.30. That’s still up 8 cents from a month ago. In Houston Thursday, the average was steady at $3.111 a gallon, according to AAA.
In other energy futures trading in New York:
— Wholesale gasoline fell 3 cents at $2.60 a gallon.
— Natural gas rose 6 cents to $4.38 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil was flat at $2.98 a gallon.