Commodity Online

NEW YORK : World oil prices continued their southward journey for the third consecutive day Tuesday as US stocks and dollar gained more strength overnight.

The fell was deepened on forecasts that US stockpiles increased for the 11th time in 12 weeks as fuel consumption dropped. The dollar advanced the most against the euro in almost two weeks, diminishing the appeal of commodities as a hedge against inflation.

Crude oil for May delivery fell 60 cents, or 0.6%, to settle at $US100.98 a barrel at 2.45pm on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices fell as low as $US99.55 on Tuesday. Oil is up 53% from a year ago.

US refineries operated at 82.2% of capacity in the week ended March 21, the lowest since October 2005, according to the Energy Department. The profit margin, or crack spread, for making three barrels of crude into one of heating oil and two of gasoline, fell to $US7.395 a barrel on March 17, the lowest since November, based on futures prices. The margin is $US13.408 today.

Futures prices rose to a record $US111.80 a barrel on March 17 in New York as investors purchased commodities in response to the plunging US dollar. Metals futures were also down today.

Brent crude for May settlement declined 13 cents to settle at $US100.17 a barrel on London's ICE Futures Europe exchange. Futures reached a record $US108.02 a barrel on March 14.