NEW YORK — Energy stocks plunged Friday as crude and natural gas prices dropped to levels not seen in more than a year.
The sector has fallen alongside a broader sell-off on Wall Street.
Consumers already have begun driving fewer miles and using less electricity to save money. The Department of Energy reported demand for gasoline over the past four weeks was down 5.3 percent.
Demand forecast cut
On Friday, the International Energy Agency, a Paris-based energy watchdog agency, cut its forecast for oil demand this year by 240,000 barrels per day and 440,000 barrels per day for 2009.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude for November delivery fell $8.89, or 10 percent, to settle at $77.70 per barrel. The steep decline comes after prices hit an all-time high of $147.27 on July 11. Today’s close marks a 47 percent loss in value for a barrel of oil.
$50 per barrel?
With energy prices sinking, it’s possible crude could hit $50 per barrel, said Stephen Schork, a commodities analyst.
Meanwhile, natural gas for November delivery lost 29 cents, or 4 percent, to $6.54 per 1,000 cubic feet. Prices had traded above $10 in July.