Oil prices ease as storm worries fade

By Hibah Yousuf, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oil prices slipped Monday, falling from a 7-week high settlement price during the previous session, as concerns about the tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico began to ease.

What prices are doing: Crude oil futures for August delivery fell 61 cents, or 0.8%, to $78.25 a barrel.

The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas increased to $2.756, up 0.1 cent from the previous day's $2.755, according to motorist group AAA.

What's moving the market: Fears that tropical storm Alex could threaten oil production and BP's clean up in the Gulf of Mexico faded after the National Hurricane Center's forecast showed that the storm will leave the key areas unaffected.

Investors also digested proposals made at the G-20 summit over the weekend. Global leaders agreed to cut their budget deficits in half by 2013 and make banking systems safer.

The drilling moratorium in the Gulf, which has been in effect since April, does not impact any current oil production.

What analysts are saying: "There's a good chance we'll come off the huge increases from Friday," said energy economist Jim Williams, president of WTRG Economics. "Even if the storm develops into a hurricane, it looks like it won't really be a big one and won't really affect oil production much."

Williams described the outcome of the G-20 meeting as a "yawn."

"Everyone had the same message going into the meeting as they did coming out of it: they'll work to tighten budgets, cure the deficit problem, but it will be a while. So there's no compelling reason for prices to move upward." To top of page

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