NEW YORK - Oil prices fell below $76 a barrel yesterday, with new data showing a slow US economic recovery and lukewarm consumer confidence. The dollar also gained against other currencies, which can keep energy prices in check.
Benchmark crude for December delivery fell $1.63 to $75.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Lagging industrial and consumer activity have played out in weekly oil inventory reports from the Energy Department, with supplies of crude in storage growing. The next weekly report arrives today, and expectations are that crude and gasoline supplies grew again last week.
Retail prices slipped again, falling less than a penny to $2.63 per gallon yesterday. That’s more than last year at this time, when gas plunged to about $1.91.
Gas consumption last week declined 1.6 percent from the previous week and 1.4 percent from a year ago, according to the MasterCard SpendingPulse report. Year-to-date consumption for 2009 is up 0.6 percent.
Still, gas prices are being supported by crude, which has traded between $76 and $82 for more than a month.