Oil price is lowest in nine months
NEW YORK — Americans needed some relief two months ago when oil was above $100 and gasoline neared $4.
Now they've got a little, even if it won't solve bigger problems with the economy.
The price of oil hit its lowest level in almost nine months Thursday — $78.20 a barrel. That's down almost 30 percent from a peak in February. It could keep falling if the U.S. and world economies continue to sputter.
America isn't generating enough jobs, Europe is headed for recession, and China, the world's powerhouse economy, is starting to slow. Adding to the concern, few economists expect the Fed's latest effort to boost growth, announced Wednesday, will have much impact.
At least there's some stimulus at the pump.
Cheaper oil means cheaper gasoline. And on Thursday, the national average for gasoline dropped to $3.472 per gallon. That's 17 cents cheaper than a year ago and down 46 cents from its peak in early April. Experts say gasoline could fall to $3.30 per gallon by July 4th.
Oil fell Thursday after reports out of China and the U.S. both pointed to a slowdown in manufacturing activity. As they fill fewer orders, factories use less energy, and that cuts into petroleum demand.
Natural gas futures rose by 6.5 cents to end at $2.582 per 1,000 cubic feet in New York.
In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline lost 4.01 cents to finish at $2.5501 per gallon.
Brent crude, which helps set the price of oil, fell by $3.46 to end the day at $89.23 per barrel.