Singapore: Oil prices rose slightly in Asia on 16 July after fears for economic growth sent prices into their steepest fall in 17 years during New York trading, analysts said.
New York’s main oil contract, light sweet crude for August delivery, was 15 cents higher at $138.89 a barrel.
The contract sank $6.44 to close at $138.74 a barrel on 15 July at the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the sharpest single-session decline since January 1991.
“I was stunned. At one point crude futures fell by $10 in one hour,” said Dave Ernsberger, Asia director of global energy information provider Platts.
Brent North Sea crude for August delivery was a penny higher at $138.76 a barrel following a plunge of $5.17 to settle at $138.75 yesterday in London.
Analysts said the falls coincided with US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s semiannual forecast to Congress. He said there was a “high degree of uncertainty” about the US economic outlook.
Traders fear that a slowing economy in the United States, the world’s biggest oil consumer, will hurt demand for crude.
The market was looking ahead to a weekly report on US energy stockpiles which was to be released later Wednesday.
Oil prices had soared after breaking through $100 at the start of 2008, and hit peaks above $147 last Friday. The record prices sparked protests around the world amid fears for economic growth.