WTI prices drop below $80 per barrel
Crude oil prices were lower Tuesday on fewer imports into China and ahead of the US Federal Reserve’s latest decision on interest rates.
Investors were also hesitant ahead of any news regarding whether the Fed will take any further steps to help out the US economy after last week’s jobs data.
New data from China showed that while imports into the Asian nation were up in July for the ninth month in a row, they rose only 22.7 percent rather than by the expected 30.2 percent, raising fears that demand for oil and other commodities will decline there.
September contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude were $1.70 lower to $79.78 per barrel at 1:30 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while at last report Brent crude had dropped $1.88 to $79.11 per barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.
Meanwhile, the US Energy Information Administration said that it expects crude oil to average $80 per barrel in the second half of this year and that by the end of next year the average price will be $85 per barrel on predicted higher demand and declining inventories, although it said US production would be up this year despite a decline in production from Gulf of Mexico wells.
Nymex September gasoline and heating oil futures each dropped 4 cents, to $2.08 per gallon and $2.11 per gallon respectively, while September natural gas futures fell 2 cents to $4.29 per million British thermal units.
The retail price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the United States was nearly a cent higher overnight to $2.781 per gallon on average nationally.
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