Crude oil prices held above $97 per barrel Wednesday, rising after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would begin to taper off on asset purchases in January. The Fed said it will throttle back from $85 billion in purchases per month to $75 billion, signaling growing confidence in the U.S. economic recovery. West Texas Intermediate crude added 48 cents to reach $97.70 per barrel. Reformulated gasoline blendstock for January added 4.68 cents to $2.694 a gallon. January heating oil added 4.01 cents to settle at $3.003 a gallon, while natural gas shed 2 cents to $4.27 per million British thermal units. The national average price of unleaded regular gasoline dropped to $3.216 a gallon from Tuesday's $3.222 a gallon, the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report said.