Oil prices fall below $100 a barrel

By Reuters
Posted March 15 at 7:33 a.m.

Oil prices fell more than $3 per barrel on Tuesday as investors worried about the impact of the Japanese crisis on the global economy. U.S. crude for April delivery slid $3.52 to $97.67 a barrel in electronic trading. The contract was down as much as $4.48 before rebounding.

U.S. stock futures also slumped, signaling a potential selloff, as Japan’s stock market plunges 10 percent.

On Monday, oil prices managed to end the day 3 cents higher, after volatility throughout the day. Oil prices had risen to nearly $107 an barrel in recent weeks due to concern about supply caused by instability in North Africa and the Middle East.

In Japan, the confirmed death toll from Friday’s tsunami and earthquake, the strongest in the country’s history, rose to 2,734. The Japanese are also threatened by potential radioactive contamination from a damaged nuclear power plants.

Also on Monday, Saudi Arabia reportedly sent troops into Bahrain to quell the unrest there.

With the halt in oil’s recent rise, the motorist group AAA reported on Tuesday that gas prices declined, snapping a 20-day streak of increases.

AAA said the U.S. average price for gas is $3.556, down 0.2 cent from Monday. The highest average prices are found in Hawaii, at $4.016 a gallon, with the lowest in Wyoming, at $3.277.

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