The price of crude oil dropped 69 cents in early activity Wednesday, trading for $96.50 a barrel on the New York Stock Exchange. Light, sweet crude oil settled at $97.19 on the exchange Tuesday.Gasoline prices were off in early trading, at $3.00 per gallon from the previous settlement of $3.04 a gallon. Home heating oil was down about a penny to $3.07 from Tuesday\'s closing price of $3.08 a gallon. Natural gas slipped to $3.93, off about 3 cents in early trading, from Tuesday\'s settlement of $3.968 per million British thermal units. At the pump, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $3.640 Wednesday, up from $3.637 Tuesday, the AAA Fuel Gauge Report said.