- Associated Press - Thursday, December 29, 2011

NEW YORK — Oil prices fell Thursday after the U.S. government reported that the nation’s crude stockpiles grew unexpectedly last week.

Benchmark crude fell by 36 cents to $99 per barrel in midday trading in New York.

Brent crude, which is used to price foreign oil varieties that are imported by U.S. refineries, fell by 31 cents to $107.25 per barrel in London.

The Energy Information Administration said U.S. oil supplies rose by 3.9 million barrels last week. Analysts expected supplies to shrink. The rise in oil supplies underscores a declining demand for gasoline and other petroleum products in the U.S. Oil demand in the U.S. has dropped by 7.8 percent from the same time last year, and gasoline demand has declined by 5.6 percent, EIA said.

In other energy trading, heating oil rose 1.33 cents to $2.9145 per gallon, and gasoline futures were flat at $2.6535 per gallon. Natural gas futures fell by 9.8 cents to $3.023 per 1,000 cubic feet.