Money Matters - Simplified

Crude oil prices listless, down slightly

New York -- Crude oil prices fell close to $76 per barrel in New York Tuesday after the International Energy Agency said China was now the largest energy consumer.

The news had marginal impact on the market, but signals "a new age in the history of energy," IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol said.

The United States, the largest consumer for more than 100 years, remains far and away the largest consumer of oil, burning 19 million barrels a day, compared to 9.2 million in China. But the report focused policy makers and traders on China's burgeoning demand, which is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.

China's standing as the largest consumer as of 2009 includes energy from coal, oil, nuclear power and renewable resources.

Overnight, prices for August delivery light, sweet crude oil lost 39 cents to $76.15 per barrel. The price of front contract New York Harbor No. 2 heating oil for August shed 0.0086 cents to $2.0084 per gallon. Reformulated blendstock gasoline prices dropped 0.0011 cents to $2.0579 per gallon.

Henry Hub natural gas prices added 0.014 cents to $4.524 per gallon.

At the retail level, the national average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline dropped Tuesday to $2.719 per gallon from Monday's $2.722, AAA said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International.

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