Oil tumbles 2% on China worries

By Blake Ellis, contributing writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oil prices plunged Wednesday on a stronger dollar and amid investor concern that the Chinese government will continue to tighten its credit policy.

What prices are doing: Oil fell $1.87, or nearly 2%, to settle at $77.62 a barrel, after dipping as low as $76.96 a barrel earlier in the session.

Click on chart to view oil prices.

On Tuesday, oil rose for the first time in six days, recovering from its lowest level so far this year.

What's driving prices: Reports that China has asked major banks to cease lending until the end of the month in order to tighten the country's credit market spooked investors. The news comes a week after the Chinese government raised bank reserve requirements for the first time since 2008.

"This shows us that China is serious about slowing down its explosive demand growth," said Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst at PFG Best. "If the Chinese government continues to take steps to slow the economy, it's going to be bearish for prices in the short term."

Meanwhile, the dollar rose as investors lost their appetite for risk, worrying about China's attempts to slow its economic growth.

"That market seems to be on fire today," he said. "The dollar's incredible strength is definitely going to put pressure on the market."

What analysts are saying: "It's going to be harder and harder to maintain these prices," said Flynn. "There's no doubt the economy is getting better, what is in doubt is whether that translates into $78 to $80 prices for oil."

Flynn said he wouldn't be surprised to see a major sell-off in the next couple of months and he predicts that oil may drop as low as $40 a barrel. To top of page

Just the hot list include
Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.39%4.35%
15 yr fixed3.66%3.68%
5/1 ARM4.03%3.98%
30 yr refi4.37%4.35%
15 yr refi3.65%3.66%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 25,883.25 443.86 1.74%
Nasdaq 7,472.41 45.45 0.61%
S&P 500 2,775.60 29.87 1.09%
Treasuries 2.67 0.01 0.34%
Data as of 10:07am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Advanced Micro Devic... 23.68 0.55 2.38%
General Electric Co 10.09 0.05 0.50%
Bank of America Corp... 29.11 0.72 2.54%
Ford Motor Co 8.54 0.12 1.43%
Newell Brands Inc 17.16 -4.53 -20.89%
Data as of Feb 15


Bankrupt toy retailer tells bankruptcy court it is looking at possibly reviving the Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us brands. More

Land O'Lakes CEO Beth Ford charts her career path, from her first job to becoming the first openly gay CEO at a Fortune 500 company in an interview with CNN's Boss Files. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.