08/20/2012 04:20 EDT | Updated 10/20/2012 05:12 EDT

Oil prices pull back slightly on concerns over the European economy

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Oil prices fell slightly in New York trading Monday after four days of gains amid renewed concerns about Europe's economy.

European leaders are beginning a series of discussions that could determine Greece's future and the stability of the 17 countries that use the euro.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude dropped four cents to US$95.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, slipped a penny to US$113.70 a barrel in London.

In a report issued Monday, the German central bank questioned the wisdom of having the European Central Bank buy bonds to help the struggling European economies. It stressed that such purchases could carry "substantial risks."

Meanwhile, Greece has fallen behind on implementing reforms and austerity measures, fuelling impatience in Germany and other eurozone countries.

Earlier in the session, oil prices rose as high as US$96.53 a barrel on the back of rising consumer confidence in the U.S. economy.

Crude oil has risen to $96 a barrel from a low of $78 in late June. Investors have worried about disruption to oil supplies in the Middle East and North Sea. In the U.S., there were problems with refineries and pipelines in the West Coast and Midwest, including a fire in California.

Other closing futures prices in New York included heating oil, flat at US$3.09 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres); wholesale gasoline. up less than a penny a US$3.03 a gallon, and natural gas, up 5.7 cents to US$2.776 per 1,000 cubic feet.