Despite the current event in the Middle East, oil prices are back down to a comfortable level of$98 a barrel.

Tom Petruno - Los Angelas Times

U.S. crude oil prices tumbled from their highs Thursday as some speculators apparently backed off from bets that Middle East unrest would worsen.

The market also may have been calmed after Saudi Arabian officials reiterated their intent to replace any crude supplies lost because of production cutbacks in strife-torn Libya.

Near-term oil futures in New York ended floor trading at $97.28 a barrel, down 82 cents from $98.10 on Wednesday and down from an intraday high Thursday of $103.41.

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