Decline in Oil Prices May Not Last

Oil prices have fallen more than $12 a barrel from their peak level after Hurricane Katrina. But with domestic production still feeling the effects of that storm, government forecasters suggest the downward trend may be ending.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Today's business report will focus on the future of oil. We begin December will fuel oil costing consumers one-third more than when the year began. Crude oil prices are somewhere south of $60 a barrel. The question is where the energy market goes next, and in a moment, we'll hear the forecast of an oil company CEO.

First, we get the basic numbers from NPR's Scott Horsley.

SCOTT HORSLEY reporting:

The price of crude oil rose by 85 cents a barrel Wednesday after a weekly report from the Energy Department showed a sharper-than-expected drop in crude oil stockpiles. Oil prices have fallen more than $12 a barrel from their peak level after Hurricane Katrina. But with domestic production still feeling the effects of that storm, government forecasters suggest the downward trend may be ending, especially if the weather turns colder. If so, retail gasoline prices may also level off somewhere above the $2-a-gallon mark. And diesel prices have stayed stubbornly high, with the average this week of nearly $2.48 a gallon.

Scott Horsley, NPR News.

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