Oil prices ease off new peaks near 100-dollar mark

NEW YORK, Nov 7, 2007 (AFP) – Crude oil prices eased back from new peaks near the 100-dollar mark Wednesday after a weekly US energy report showed a smaller-than-expected decline in stockpiles. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for December delivery, dipped 33 cents to close at 96.37 dollars a barrel, after hitting a record high of 98.62 dollars in intraday trade.

In London, Brent North Sea crude for December delivery slipped two cents to settle at 93.24 dollars a barrel. The Brent contract also had surged to a fresh high, at 95.19 dollars.

“We are approaching ever closer to the triple-digit mark and in our opinion the 100-dollar level will provide a real test to how strong this bull run is,” Sucden analyst Michael Davies said in London.

Oil futures have rallied sharply in recent weeks, and breached 97 dollars in New York and 93 dollars in London for the first time Tuesday.

Prices surged earlier Wednesday in anticipation of the US Department of Energy’s (DoE) snapshot on energy stockpiles for the week ended November 2.

But they lost steam after the DoE reported crude reserves dropped by 800,000 barrels, confounding market expectations of a 1.8 million-barrel d