Oil prices declined for the third consecutive day on Friday on fear and speculation that the U.S. â€“ the top oil consumer- is heading towards an economic recession, thereby weakening demand for the commodity.
Several factors have contributed to the decline. Among them, former U.S. Treasury Secretary, Lawrence Summers said on Thursday the chance of a U.S. recession was more than 50 percent, according to Reuters.
Earlier this week, analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said the U.S. and Japan are at risk of recession. Yesterday, oil also fell on worries of U.S. consumer spending. Important retail chains said holiday sales in the U.S. were lower than expected.
U.S. crude oil settled down $1.02 cents or 1.09 percent to $92.69 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude fell $1.27 to $90.71 on the London ICE Futures exchange.
Oil has been trading over $90 a barrel for over month but that changed dramatically on Jan. 3 when the commodity reached a record high of $100.09 a barrel. Oil began its slide on Jan. 9 when U.S. weekly data showed fuel stocks rose and crude supplies dropped sharply.
Oil didn't recover despite a statement yesterday by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signaled that the central bank was ready to take action to strengthen the economy and prevent a recession by cutting interests rate to a half point.
The Commerce Department said today in Washington that the U.S. trade deficit expanded because Americans spent record dollars on imported oil. The gap between imports and exports grew 9.3 percent, the most in two years from $57.8 billion in October, to $63.1 billion in November.
In Africa on Friday, an oil tanker in major U.S. supplier Nigeria was attacked by militants who detonated a bomb. According to reports, oil production was not affected. Prices rose initially but fell again.
Gas at the pump was lower, with the AAA and Oil Price Information Service reporting that prices fell 0.5 cents to a national average of $3.095 per gallon.