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Oil slips closer to $103 as supply fears recede

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The price of oil slipped closer to $103 a barrel Tuesday as concerns about supply disruptions continued to fade.

Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery fell 13 cents to close at $103.40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.30 to close at $108.94 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Oil has been falling steadily since it hit a 10-month closing high of $107.26 on June 20 as the Iraqi government has slowly re-established stability after an advance by insurgents. Meanwhile, an agreement in Libya between the central government and a regional militia is clearing the way for more exports there.

"The imminent return of Libyan supply to the market is continuing to weigh on prices," said analysts at Commerzbank in Frankfurt in a note to clients.

U.S. crude production, meanwhile, is at its highest in about two decades.

Investors now await information to be released Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined fuels. Data for the week ending July 4 is expected to show declines of 3 million barrels in crude oil stocks and of 1 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 1.6 cents to close at $2.973 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 2.1 cents to $4.204 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil fell 4 cents to $2.874 a gallon.

AP Writer Pablo Gorondi contributed to this story from Budapest.

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