Oil prices: $55 a barrel

Oil prices fell for the third straight day on Wednesday, slipping below $53 a barrel after a rally that was sparked by a drop in supplies fizzled and brokers locked in profits from a recent runup.

Crude futures initially climbed as high as $55 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after the Energy Department released data showing that the nation's commercially available supply shrank by 3 million barrels last week. But the buying gradually dried up and &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/20/91/368/14250_Chavez.html ' target=_blank>oil prices headed south.

July light sweet crude fell $1.26 to $52.50 a barrel in late afternoon trading on Nymex, tells ABC News.

According to Bloomberg, crude oil for July traded at $52.45 a barrel, down 9 cents, in after-hours electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 8:41 a.m. Singapore time. It traded at $52.40 earlier today, the lowest intraday price since June 1.

The contract yesterday fell $1.22 to $52.54, the biggest one- day decline since May 18. Futures initially surged to $55 after the report showed a 3.1 million-barrel drop in crude oil inventories. Prices today are up 40 percent from a year ago.

Oil futures surged to a five-week high last week on concern the nation's distillate stocks weren't rising fast enough to meet rising demand for trucking and jet fuel.