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Oil falls to near $102 on expectations of buildup in U.S. supplies

A pump jack decorated as a cowboy works on the outskirts of Calgary in a file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jeff McIntosh

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A pump jack decorated as a cowboy works on the outskirts of Calgary in a file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jeff McIntosh

The price of oil slipped Tuesday as expectations of a buildup in U.S. crude inventories dampened sentiment.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was down 49 cents to US$102.33 a barrel at 2:55 a.m. ET in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 62 cents to $102.82 on Monday.

Oil rose Monday as another cold spell for the U.S. Midwest and Northeast was expected to boost demand for heating oil at a time when many refineries are undergoing seasonal maintenance.

Supplies, however, also appeared to be robust with weekly crude stocks on a rising trend. Investors are waiting for a weekly U.S. stockpile report due later this week that is likely to show further gains.

Some analysts expect oil prices to drop in the spring, when many refineries will be carrying out maintenance work, which is temporarily accompanied by lower oil demand.

Jitters over a slowdown in China also added to fears that global economic growth could weaken, which would reduce demand for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

Brent crude, which is used to set prices for international varieties of crude, fell 45 cents to $110.19 on the ICE exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.6 cent to $3.001 per gallon.

— Heating oil was up 0.5 cent at $3.046 a gallon.

— Natural gas lost 11.4 cents to $5.331 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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

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