The price of oil slipped below $107 per barrel as the oil market shrugged off continuing violence in Egypt.
U.S. benchmark crude fell 58 cents to $106.75 in afternoon trading, putting it on track to finish the week roughly flat. Brent crude, which is used to price imported crude used by many U.S. refineries, fell 17 cents to $109.43 per barrel for October delivery.
The average retail price of a gallon of gasoline rose less than a penny to $3.54 per gallon. It is down 9 cents per gallon in August and it is 17 cents lower than it was last year. Turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa has disrupted some production and exports, and raised the specter of spreading violence that could spill important supply routes.
Violence in Egypt continued Friday as tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters fought with armed civilians, police and troops in Cairo. At least 37 people were killed in the fighting nationwide Friday. More than 600 people have been killed since violence erupted Wednesday.
Egypt is not a major oil exporter, but there is concern that an escalation in fighting could spread to neighboring countries or disrupt the Suez Canal, a major trade route. But rising oil production in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere has helped keep the market well supplied with oil, and global demand is rising only modestly. That has kept a lid on the recent rise associated with Middle Eastern violence, analysts say.
In other energy futures trading: — Heating oil remained unchanged at $3.07 a gallon. — Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents $2.96 a gallon. — Natural gas fell 4 cents to $3.38 per 1,000 cubic feet.