Oil price fluctuates around $86 per barrel

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Oil prices are fluctuating Wednesday, as economists and investors consider how much oil the world will consume in coming months.

Fears of another recession have diminished as European financial leaders take steps to strengthen their banking system. Still, analysts predict tepid economic growth. Overall, research groups say the world is consuming oil at a slower pace than previously expected.

Benchmark crude rose 28 cents to $86.09 per barrel in New York. It was below $85 earlier in the day. Brent crude, which is used to price oil from foreign countries, rose $1.09 to $109.14 in London.

Prices have risen for six straight days, mainly on encouraging economic news from Europe. European leaders on Wednesday announced plans to force banks to pad their cash reserves to protect them from further market turmoil amid the region's debt crisis.

At the pump, the national average for a gallon of regular added nearly a penny at $3.405, a record for this time of year, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. A gallon of regular is about 59 cents higher than it was a year ago.

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency joined OPEC in cutting its demand forecasts for this year and next year. The Paris-based IEA trimmed its forecast for global demand by 50,000 barrels per day in 2011 and by 210,000 barrels per day in 2012. It still expects world consumption to hit a record of 89.2 million barrels a day this year.

The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in a monthly report that homeowners in the U.S. can expect to pay more to heat their homes this winter. The EIA said that prices for natural gas, propane and heating oil will all rise.

In other energy commodities, heating oil added 5 cents to $2.9512 per gallon while gasoline futures were nearly unchanged at $2.7502 per gallon. Natural gas futures lost 9 cents to $3.528 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.



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