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Oil falls after string of gains

BANGKOK (AP) — The price of oil fell Monday as traders took profits following a recent run-up in prices.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was down 40 cents to $96.87 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 65 cents to close at $97.23 a barrel on Thursday. The market was closed Friday for the holiday.

Oil gained more than $4 in recent sessions, driven by signs of strength in the U.S. economy. Higher prices motivated investors to cash in.

"Oil prices pulled back some this morning primarily due to profit-taking. Prices rose last week based on strong performance in the equities market and also a weaker dollar," said Victor Shum, energy analyst at Purvin & Gertz in Singapore.

In other energy futures trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $3.101 a gallon.

— Heating oil was down 1.2 cents to $3.035 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 3.7 cents to $3.987 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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