Oil prices hold amid energy worries
Oil hovered around $80 a barrel yesterday after new home sales dropped to a six-month low, adding to worries about energy demand in the slowing economy.
The Commerce Department said that sales of new homes fell in August and are on pace for the worst year since the government began keeping records a half century ago.
The discouraging government report came as European leaders continued to debate the best way to resolve the monthsold debt crisis that could drag down the regional economy. Investors are concerned that Europe’s problems could lead to another recession, which would cut demand for oil and gasoline. Demand for gasoline in the United States is already below year-ago levels.
Benchmark oil rose 39 cents to finish at $80.24 per barrel in New York. Crude has traded between about $79 per barrel and $90 per barrel this month.
It is “just a wild, wild ride now and people are just very nervous at this point,’’ oil trader Stephen Schork said.
Italian energy giant Eni said Libya has resumed partial oil production for the first time since unrest broke out in February, producing about 31,900 barrels of oil per day.
At the pump, gas prices fell about a penny yesterday to $3.49 per gallon, according to a survey by AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service. Heating oil fell less than 1 cent to $2.8030 per gallon.