Money Matters - Simplified

U.S. oil falls below $77 on forecast fears

New York -- U.S. crude oil futures fell Wednesday to settle below $77 a barrel after the U.S. Federal Reserve reduced its U.S. economic growth outlook.

Light, sweet crude for August delivery settled down 28 cents, or 0.36 percent, at $76.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after rising as high as $78.15. Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange settled down 27 cents, or 0.36 percent, at $75.66 a barrel.

The Fed projected the U.S. gross domestic product would rise 3 percent to 3.5 percent this year, down from the central bank's 3.2 percent to 3.7 percent spring projection.

The policymakers also said new fiscal stimulus options might be needed if the U.S. economy showed more severe signs of slowing, minutes of the Fed's June 22-23 policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee meeting indicated.

Earlier Wednesday the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy, said gasoline demand dropped 3.9 percent the Fourth of July holiday week from a week earlier to the lowest level since April.

August reformulated gasoline blendstock settled down 1.85 cents, or 0.89 percent, at $2.0636 a gallon.

Natural gas for August delivery settled down 4 cents, or 1.03 percent, at $4.31 per 1,000 cubic feet.

August heating oil slipped 1.6 cents, or 0.78 percent, to settle at $2.0314 a gallon.

AAA said Wednesday the average U.S. retail price for regular unleaded gasoline was $2.713 a gallon, unchanged from Tuesday's average.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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