Oil falls a 4th day on dollar and gasoline slide

By Robert Gibbons

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. crude oil futures prices fell on Monday for a fourth straight session, slumping to a six-week low as a stronger dollar and tumbling gasoline futures kept pressure on crude oil.

The same concerns pummeled oil prices last week — slowing economic growth, bulging U.S. inventories and plenty of spare capacity held by producers and refiners.

U.S. crude for October delivery fell 72 cents, or 0.98 percent, to settle at $73.10 a barrel, having traded from $72.75 to $74.48. That $72.75 intraday low was the lowest since prices fell to $71.44 on July 7.

The October contract took over front-month position after Friday’s expiration of the September contract.

October Brent crude fell 64 cents to settle at $73.62.

“Crude was pressured by dollar’s strength and follow-on downward momentum as the October crude contract picked up where the September contract left off,” said Stephen Schork, president at the Schork Group in Villanova, Pennsylvania.

Also weighing on the oil complex, gasoline futures slumped to a six-month low. U.S. September RBOB gasoline futures fell 4.41 cents, or 2.29 percent, to settle at $1.8810 a gallon. The session low was $1.8777, the lowest since $1.8716 on February 12.

The U.S. summer driving demand season is near the end, ahead of the “shoulder” season between summer and the winter heating fuel season.

While the September crude contract expired on Friday, the September refined products contracts expire on August 31.

Gasoline’s premium or crack spread against crude oil hit a low of $4.07 a barrel, the lowest since slumping to $1.54 on November 16, 2009.

“The complex easily picked up where it left off last week by dropping down into 6-7-week lows with the front of the RBOB curve leading the way lower,” Jim Ritterbusch, president at Ritterbusch & Associates in Galena, Illinois, said in a note.

U.S. September heating oil, the distillate benchmark, fell 1.56 cents to settle at $1.9554 a gallon.

U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) fell after seesaw trading, but their retreat from a higher open helped turn crude oil negative. Defensive stocks like utilities helped limit Wall Street’s slip after the latest corporate merger activities were not enough to soothe concerns about a stalling economic recovery. (.N: )

Total trading volume for crude futures was light, just above 377,000 in afternoon trading in New York, down from 402,852 on Friday and below the 30-day average of 592,458, according to Reuters data.

The dollar strengthened after a weaker start on Monday. The dollar index (Read more about the global trade. ) (.DXY: ) was up and the euro slipped as new euro zone data added to concerns over the economy and investors increasingly bet on prospects of loose monetary policy until year-end.

A stronger dollar can pressure oil prices as money shifts out of more risky commodities and also because countries with other currencies must pay more for dollar-denominated oil.

Oil this year has traded in a $64.24-$87.15 range as the economy’s recovery has not lifted demand sufficiently to lower ample stockpiles. U.S. combined petroleum stocks in the week to August 13 climbed to their highest level since the government began keeping weekly records in 1990.

Oil prices received scant support from the formation of Tropical Storm Danielle, which was expected to strengthen into a hurricane as it moved west-northwest toward Bermuda, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

But computer models expected the storm’s trajectory to take it north, missing the Gulf of Mexico energy infrastructure. Though the Atlantic hurricane season was expected to be very active, so far the season has produced few disruptions to energy operations in the Gulf of Mexico region.

(Additional reporting by Gene Ramos in New York, Alex Lawler in London and Alejandro Barbajosa in Singapore; Editing by David Gregorio)

Oil falls a 4th day on dollar and gasoline slide