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Oil slips below US$97 a barrel; natural gas rockets soars 10 per cent

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - The price of oil slipped a bit Friday, but still finished the week with a gain of more than two per cent. A sell-off in global equity markets may have weighed on oil traders' sentiments, producing the first losing day of the week.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery fell 68 cents to close at US$96.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. For the week, oil was up $2.27 a barrel, or 2.4 per cent.

Meanwhile, the price of natural gas soared nearly 10 per cent. The frigid temperatures across much of the US Midwest and Northeast have homeowners and businesses cranking up the heat. At the same time, the recent combination of snow, ice and cold temperatures has impeded some natural gas production.

Natural gas jumped 45 cents to reach US$5.18 per 1,000 cubic feet, the highest close since June 2010.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil, rose 30 cents to US$107.88 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex, wholesale gasoline was flat at US$2.66 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres) and heating oil rose six cents to US$3.14 a gallon.

(TSX:ECA), (TSX:IMO), (TSX:SU), (TSX:HSE), (NYSE:BP), (NYSE:COP), (NYSE:XOM), (NYSE:CVX), (TSX:CNQ), (TSX:TLM), (TSX:COS), (TSX:CVE)

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