BANGKOK -- The price of oil was driven higher by bargain-hunting traders Thursday after plunging about 7 percent in the past week.
Benchmark crude for December delivery was up 24 cents to $85.97 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Oil fell Wednesday after the U.S. reported an unexpectedly large increase in crude supplies. The contract dropped 94 cents, or about 1 percent, to finish at $85.73 per barrel.
Mark Pervan, senior commodity strategist with ANZ Bank in Melbourne, said traders were seeing an opportunity for bargains after recent price plunges. The oil price has dropped almost 7 percent since closing last Thursday at $92.10.
"The markets have been heavily sold in the last couple of weeks," he said. "Oil looks like one of the cheaper commodities in the markets."
U.S. oil supplies grew last week by 5.9 million barrels, or 1.6 percent, the Energy Department said. At 375.1 million barrels, the nation's oil inventory is 11.1 percent above year-ago levels.
Brent crude rose 32 cents to $108.17 per barrel in London.
In other futures trading in New York:
_ Wholesale gasoline rose 0.4 cent to $2.595 per gallon.
_ Heating oil rose 1 cent to $3.037 per gallon.
_ Natural gas fell 0.2 cent to $3.448 per 1,000 cubic feet.
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