Oil fell more than $2 dollars on Thursday as a raft of poor economic data provided a fresh blow to shaky investor confidence and extended U.S. oil's losses to 13 percent so far in August.
Early pressure from weak jobs and home sales data, before a report showing factory activity in the Mid-Atlantic region in August dropped to the lowest level since March 2009 sparked a steep sell off at mid-morning.
Gold hit a fresh record as investors sought safe havens and fled equities and commodities, which have been battered this month by concerns about the U.S. deficit, the euro zone debt crisis and a darkening economic outlook.
It's much of the same -- concerns over European banks, U.S. deficits weighing on economic growth and the possibility of a global recession as the end result, said Chris Jarvis, senior analyst for Caprock Risk Management, Hampton Falls, New Hampshire.
These cross currents are driving wild swings for riskier asset classes such as equities and commodities, specifically crude oil. Until clarity improves, we expect volatility to remain elevated relative to historical norms.
Brent crude futures fell $2.35 to $108.25 a barrel by 10:51 EDT, down from near $117 a barrel at the end of July.
Losses were heavier in U.S. crude, down $3.89 to $83.69 a barrel, off end-July levels near $96 a barrel. U.S. crude's discount to Brent widened to over $24 a barrel.