WASHINGTON -- Oil prices fell by almost $1 a barrel yesterday following four explosions in London reminiscent of the deadly bombings there two weeks ago and which raised concerns about a possible slowdown in travel.
A government report on petroleum supplies released Wednesday that eased concerns about hurricane-related output disruptions in the Gulf of Mexico added to the pressure on prices.
Analysts said traders also were wrestling with the economic implications of China's decision to strengthen its currency, the yuan, by about 2 percent.
Light, sweet crude for September fell 89 cents to settle at $57.13 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Nymex heating oil futures declined by 2.88 cents to finish at $1.5689 per gallon, while gasoline futures rose 0.50 cent to $1.6810 per gallon.
On London's International Petroleum Exchange, September Brent futures slipped 93 cents to settle at $55.72 a barrel.
In London, explosions struck three London Underground stations and a bus. No one was injured, but the lunch-hour explosions caused major shock and disruption in the capital and were similar to the July 7 suicide bombings that killed 56 people.
Analysts said the events in London could put a dent in consumer confidence and curb the demand for travel to Britain, if not all of Europe, potentially hurting the economy and crimping global fuel consumption.
''You have to remember that it's only going to take a small change in oil demand, either up or down, to make a huge difference in prices," said oil analyst Phil Flynn of Chicago's Alaron Trading Corp.