| GEO Business|
| Oil prices rally for third day, flirt with 80 dlr level|
| Updated at: 0433 PST, Thursday, November 19, 2009|
NEW YORK: Oil prices rose for the third consecutive session Wednesday, with the key New York futures contract briefly breaching 80 dollars after key data showed a steeper-than-expected drop in US stockpiles.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for December delivery, rose as high as 80.33 dollars before closing up 44 cents to 79.58 dollars per barrel.
London's Brent North Sea crude for January gained 50 cents to settle at 79.47 dollars a barrel.
The US Department of Energy (DoE) announced Wednesday that American crude reserves sank 900,000 barrels in the week ending November 13, more than the 600,000 barrels anticipated by the market.
American gasoline or petrol inventories tumbled by 1.7 million barrels, confounding expectations for a small gain.
The DoE added that stockpiles of distillates, which include diesel and heating fuel, fell 300,000 barrels. Analysts had pencilled in a bigger drop of 500,000 barrels.
However, analysts said the drop in inventory levels was exacerbated by Hurricane Ida, which weakened to a tropical storm earlier this month but led to the closure of some petroleum installations in the Gulf of Mexico.