Crude slips more on downturn fears
HOUSTON - Benchmark oil prices fell below $35 a barrel yesterday as another dose of bad economic news from the Federal Reserve only raised concerns about the global downturn's impact on energy demand.
Light, sweet crude for March delivery fell 31 cents to settle at $34.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The March contract expires on Friday, and most of the trading was for the April contract. Benchmark crude for April delivery fell $1.13 to settle at $37.41.
There is little faith in the energy markets that the $787 billion stimulus bill signed this week will lead to a quick turnaround.
In a positive note for motorists, retail gasoline prices fell for a second straight day after three weeks on the rise.
Pump prices slipped 0.3 cents to a national average of $1.957 a gallon for regular unleaded, according to auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service, and Wright Express.
Analysts expect crude stocks to grow by another 3.5 million barrels when the Energy Department releases oil inventory data for the week ended Feb. 13, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.