Signs of economic troubles in the U.S., Europe, and other major global economies were combining with a stronger U.S. dollar to pressure crude prices Friday morning.
Texas light sweet crude futures were falling $1.56 at $113.45 a barrel at the New York Mercantile exchange, and Brent crude was losing $1.88 at $111.67 a barrel.
Reformulated gasoline was off 4 cents at $2.87 a gallon, heating oil was sliding a penny at $3.08 a gallon, and near-term natural gas was down 3 cents at $8.10 per million British thermal units.
The European Union's economic statistics office reported Thursday that Europe's gross domestic product constricted by 0.2% in the second quarter of this year. Europe hasn't reported negative quarterly GDP growth in more than a decade.
The poor data from the Euro-zone means that four out of five of the world's largest economies are now alarmingly close to recession.
On Wednesday the U.S. Energy Information Administration updated its outlook on how the slowing U.S. economy is dampening domestic demand for petroleum products. Motor gasoline consumption dropped 2% last week from 2007 levels, distillate fuel demand dropped 4.3%, and jet fuel was down 8.5%. Europe's troubles will probably cause a similar drop in oil consumption there.
Meanwhile, oil markets also were taking a beating from a surge in the value of the U.S. dollar in the last 24 hours. Europe's poor results caused it's currency to sink against the dollar to nearly a six-month low of $1.4742, and Britain's pound sterling dropped against the dollar to just below $1.8510, a level not seen by the pound since October 2007.
Elsewhere, energy stocks are moving lower in early Friday trading.
is down 1.3% at $58.07,
is down 1% at $78.1,
Royal Dutch Shell
is 1.6% lower at $67.46, and shares of
are shedding 0.8% at $76.87.
U.S. Oil Fund
, an exchange-traded fund that closely tracks the performance of WTI futures contracts on the NYMEX, was recently falling 1.5% at $91.35.