Oil snaps 2 days of steep losses, gains modest

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BANGKOK (AP) -- The price of oil snapped two days of steep losses Friday. Ample supplies and worries about the global economic outlook kept gains in check.

Benchmark crude for April delivery was up 42 cents to $93.26 a barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The contract fell $2.38, or 2.5 percent, to finish at $92.84 per barrel in New York on Thursday, the second drop of 2 percent or more in two days.

Crude oil's recent slide is a result of ample supplies and recent speculation that the Federal Reserve may soon allow interest rates to rise, which would reduce the supply of easy cash investors have been using to buy commodities such as oil.

Weak economic data from Europe and moves by China's government to cool inflation pressures have also tempered expectations about the strength of energy demand.

Brent crude, which is used to price oil used to make gasoline in many U.S. refineries, was up 54 cents at $114.07 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

-- Natural gas was nearly unchanged at $3.245 per 1,000 cubic feet.

-- Heating oil fell 1.2 cents to $3.107 per gallon.

-- Wholesale gasoline rose 1.2 cents to $3.246 per gallon.