Crude oil prices slipped under $97 per barrel in New York Friday after the Energy Information Administration reported a less-than-expected inventory gain. The EIA said Thursday stockpiles rose by 990,000 barrels to 351.2 million during the week. Traders had been been expecting an increase of 1.15 million barrels. The discrepancy sent prices higher Thursday. By Friday morning, the advance had turned around. Light, sweet West Texas Intermediate crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange shed 43 cents to $96.89 per barrel. Gasoline dropped 1.33 cents to $2.6485 a gallon. Home heating oil lost 0.91 cents to $3.0674 a gallon. Natural gas gained 22 cents to $4.95 per million British thermal units. The national average price of unleaded regular gasoline rose to $3.288 per gallon from Thursday's $3.287 , the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report said.
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