Crude oil prices fall


Published: Saturday, December 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 30, 2007 at 9:27 p.m.

NEW YORK - Crude oil prices dipped to their lowest levels in more than a month Friday, falling below $89 a barrel as investors sold amid signs of weakening demand and expectations that OPEC will boost production next week.

The slide in oil may mean consumers will see relief at the pump soon, analysts said. Gasoline and heating oil futures also dropped.

It was quite a turnaround for crude, which began the week pushing $100 a barrel but ended it by falling to its lowest levels since Oct. 25.

Light, sweet crude for January delivery fell $2.30 to settle at $88.71 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude prices are more than $10 below Monday's high of $99.11 a barrel and the all-time high of $99.29 a barrel set last week. Prices continued falling Friday after the Nymex closed, dropping as low as $88.45 in electronic trading.

Oil's downturn is good news for consumers, who will likely see lower gas prices in coming days, said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service.

"We're looking at (gas prices) backing off quite a bit,'' he said.

Overnight, gas slid 0.8 cent to a national average of $3.088 a gallon, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Gas prices have been flat the past two weeks after rising steadily for a month.

Gas prices could fall back to mid-October levels, when they averaged about $2.76 a gallon, Kloza said. Despite the downturn, many observers predict gas will rise steeply in the spring, and could threaten the record price of $3.227 a gallon set in May. That's because analysts expect next year's price to be driven by rising demand and tight supplies; last year's records came as a string of unexpected refinery outages cut gasoline output.

Oil has been pressured in recent days by evidence that Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are raising their output, and by expectations that OPEC members will agree at a meeting next week to raise production further.

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