Crude Oil Falls Below $100 a Barrel

Clifford Krauss
The New York Times

HOUSTON — Oil prices closed below $100 a barrel on Thursday during a session in which most commodity prices fell sharply, signaling that a recent run-up in commodities prices may finally be coming to an end.

After four months of surging higher, oil prices plummeted by almost 9 percent as traders worried that American drivers were beginning to balk at paying nearly $4 a gallon of gasoline.

Energy specialists had a variety of explanations for the drop, including Thursday’s weak employment data and a strengthening dollar that tends to make all dollar-denominated commodities cheaper in dollars and more expensive for holders of other currencies…

…Over the last four days, crude prices have declined by about 12 percent, the quickest drop so far this year. Similar declines have come for both light sweet crude, the United States benchmark, and Brent, the benchmark for Europe and Asia.

Gasoline prices have not yet declined, though experts say they have probably peaked and will begin falling in the next few days — probably in time for the Memorial Day weekend. Prices at the pump increased by a fraction of a penny on Thursday, according to the AAA daily fuel gauge report, which reported that Americans paid an average of nearly $3.99 for a gallon of regular. That is still 10 cents higher than a week ago, 30 cents higher than a month ago, and more than $1 more than a year ago….

Read the entire article at The New York Times.

Related: House Passes a Bill to Expand Offshore Oil Drilling, at The New York Times.

With rising gasoline prices and skyrocketing oil company profits as a backdrop, the House approved a bill on Thursday to force the Obama administration to accelerate oil lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia.

The 266-to-149 vote, largely along party lines, was a skirmish in the larger battle between Republicans and Democrats to capitalize on consumer anger over the price of gasoline, which has now passed $4 a gallon in most parts of the country.

The bill would reinstate auctions for the right to drill offshore, which have been pushed back by the administration to allow more time for environmental and safety reviews….

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