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Oil declines, despite bullish oil inventory data

NEW YORK (AP) -- The price of oil slipped Wednesday despite a report from the U.S. Department of Energy that showed stockpiles of crude fell more than expected last week.

Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery fell 86 cents to $104.48 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, its fifth day of declines. The contract closed at a 10-month high of $107.26 on June 20.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell $1.05 to $111.24 a barrel in London.

The Energy Department said U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell by 3.2 million barrels last week to 384.9 million barrels. Analysts had expected a drop of 1.7 million barrels. Oil quickly rose on the news, but sold off as the afternoon progressed.

Oil prices have risen in recent weeks on concerns that violence in Iraq, OPEC's second-largest exporter, would disrupt supplies. They stabilized late last week as the stunning initial advance by insurgents lost momentum.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

_ Wholesale gasoline fell a penny to $3.02 a gallon.

_ Natural gas fell 9 cents to $4.36 per 1,000 cubic feet.

_ Heating oil fell three cents to $2.95 a gallon.

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