Oil slides back under $100

Recession fears hold down the price of crude in spite of looming bailout vote, say analysts.

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Oil prices slid back below US$100 a barrel yesterday as fears of a US recession trumped expectations that the country's lawmakers would pass a revised bank bailout plan. "I am pessimistic," Tetsu Emori, the commodity markets fund manager at ASTMAZ Futures Company in Tokyo, told Associated Press. "I think the US is already in a recession."

Based on downwards revisions to US government data on petrol consumption in July, and a continued slide in figures for traffic in the world's biggest oil-consuming nation, slowing US oil demand was "not going to be overridden by policymakers voting to buy the (banks') toxic assets", said Oliver Jakob of the Swiss firm, Petromax. "We have to go back 10 years to find a level of demand so low for a month of July," he added.

Crude oil for November delivery slid to $98.06 a barrel in morning trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday, in an abrupt retreat from an earlier intraday high of $102.84 a barrel. In the third quarter, oil futures declined 28 per cent in their steepest quarterly drop since the First Gulf War in 1991. On Sept 29, as the Standard & Poor's index of 500 stocks tumbled the most since the 1987 stock market crash, oil slumped $10.52 or 9.8 per cent to $96.37 in its biggest one-day decline since Nov 15, 2001.

A week earlier, oil prices had jumped a record 16 per cent in a single day. @Email:tcarlisle@thenational.ae