(Reuters) - Brent crude fell below $113 a barrel on Monday, striking its lowest level since late January, on growing worries about global energy demand after weak U.S. jobs data and European elections that could threaten efforts to fix the euro zone debt crisis.
Oil prices, which have fallen for four straight sessions, suffered a sell off on Friday after data showing U.S. nonfarm hiring slowed for the second month in a row in April, fueling fears of falling energy demand in the world's top oil consumer.
This was compounded by weekend elections in France and Greece that raised concerns over their ability to carry out further austerity measures seen as key to tackle the region's debt crisis.
Since Friday, U.S. crude has lost more than 6 percent, while Brent has dropped over 4 percent.
There are great fears that the new government in Greece will end austerity measures and that will lead to a disorderly default, and that has led to a sell-off across all risk markets, said Ben Le Brun, a market analyst with OptionsXpress in Sydney.
Brent crude lost 78 cents to $112.40 a barrel by 2:08 a.m. EDT (0608 GMT), after touching a low of $110.34, its weakest since late January. The benchmark contract fell 2.5 percent on Friday.
U.S. crude was down $1.41 at $97.08 a barrel, after dropping to as low as $95.34, its weakest since December 20, 2011. U.S. oil fell around 4 percent on Friday, its biggest drop since December, to hit below $100 for the first time since February.
SUPPLY FEARS EASE
Higher supply from the 12-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which is pumping 32.3 million barrels per day (bpd) - 2.3 million bpd more than OPEC's target of 30 million bpd, also weighed on oil prices.
The extra OPEC oil has offset a decline in exports from Iran, which is facing stiffening western sanctions over its disputed nuclear energy program.
The well of good news has dried up, although there is still some risk premium in the oil price because of Iran, Le Brun said.
Brent is now lower than it was in early November, when a U.N. report on Iran's nuclear program stirred new action against Tehran.
Iran and major powers resumed talks in mid-April in Istanbul after a gap of more than a year, during which time the United States and European Union stepped up efforts to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions through new sanctions and an oil embargo which come into effect over the summer. They are to meet again on May 23 in Baghdad.
We maintain that the path of least resistance for oil is down, especially as bearish catalysts continue to emerge, said analysts at Morgan Stanley in a report on Monday. Lackluster macroeconomic conditions, easing global tensions and bearish fundamentals have already started to weigh on oil prices.
Oil fell along with most risk assets on Monday, with Japan's Nikkei stock average .N225 sliding 2.5 percent, while the euro also tumbled in early Asian trade on worries over the European elections. .T
French voters ousted Nicolas Sarkozy, a key architect of bailouts for indebted countries and an advocate of austerity measures, in Sunday's presidential vote.
In Greece, voters also turned on ruling parties in an election on Sunday, putting the country's future in the euro zone at risk.
Adding to the negative sentiment, U.S. employers cut back on hiring in April, with nonfarm payroll rising by a less than forecast 115,000 in April, spurring concerns that the U.S. economy is losing momentum.
(Additional reporting by Meeyoung Cho in Seoul; Editing by Manolo Serapio Jr. and Ed Davies)