SINGAPORE, (AP) – Oil prices fell to near $73 a barrel Friday in Asia amid expectations a slower economic recovery in debt-saddled Europe will weigh on crude demand.
Benchmark crude for June delivery was down $1.31 to $73.10 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The June contract dropped $1.25 to settle at $74.40.
Crude prices have fallen about 15 percent from early last week as the dollar gained amid a debt crisis in Europe. A stronger dollar makes oil more expensive for investors with other currencies.
The euro fell Friday to $1.2469 from $1.2519 on Thursday and the dollar declined to 92.41 yen from 92.66.
Oil traders have also been eyeing equity markets as an overall barometer of investor sentiment, and the Dow Jones industrial average fell 1.1 percent Thursday. Most Asian stock indices also dropped Friday.
“The price of oil is currently fighting a losing battle against the dollar and the equities markets,” said Mike Sander of Sander Capital.
Investors are concerned that fiscal austerity measures in countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece will undermine economic growth and crude consumption.
“It looks like the euro zone economy is going to slow by quite a bit, not helping the overall global economy, nor that of crude oil demand,” Sander said.
In other Nymex trading in June contracts, heating oil fell 1.64 cent to $2.1155 a gallon, and gasoline fell 1.7 cent to $2.178 a gallon. Natural gas was down 0.6 cent at $4.333 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In London, Brent crude was down $1.57 to $78.54 on the ICE futures exchange.