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Oil off slightly on European economic concern

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 6 cents to end at $104.87 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price oil imported into the U.S., lost 36 cents to end at $119.47 per barrel in London.

By CHRIS KAHN
The Associated Press

4/30/2012

NEW YORK — Oil dropped slightly on Monday following concerns of growing economic troubles in Europe.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 6 cents to end at $104.87 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price oil imported into the U.S., lost 36 cents to end at $119.47 per barrel in London.

Prices fell after Spain said its economy has fallen into recession. The announcement is one more sign of economic weakness in Europe, which consumes about 18 percent of the world's oil. Analysts also worry that Europe's growing debts could affect other regions, including the U.S., by sparking another banking crisis.

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The U.S. government also said consumer spending grew at a slower pace last month. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic growth, and any cutbacks could hurt the economic recovery.

Meanwhile, natural gas prices jumped nearly 4 percent to the highest level in a month after the government reported that natural gas production dropped by 0.6 percent in February. Natural gas companies have been shutting down operations this year after supplies jumped well above average for the time of year.

The glut had pushed natural gas prices to a 10-year low earlier this year. On Thursday, natural gas futures added 8 cents to $2.27 per 1,000 cubic feet in New York. That's the highest midday price since March 26.

In other energy trading, heating oil was flat at $3.18 per gallon while gasoline futures increased by 2 cents to $3.18 per gallon.

Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at kevinj@thetrucker.com.

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