Oil prices slide again

By Chavon Sutton, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oil prices tumbled on Monday for the third straight trading day as investors reacted to the fraud charges against Goldman Sachs and the strength of the dollar.

What prices are doing: The contract for June crude oil delivery -- the most actively traded on Monday -- fell $1.54 to settle at $83.13 a barrel. The May contract, which expires Tuesday, fell $1.79, or about 2%, to settle at $81.45 a barrel.

For more commodities prices, click chart.

Prices had meandered within a tight range for weeks before Friday's fraud charges against Goldman Sachs help send them down 3% in a day. Though down nearly 4% over the past week to their lowest levels since early March, crude prices were still 61% higher than a year ago.

What's moving the market: Prices continue to reel over the Goldman case and the stronger dollar.

On Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Goldman misled investors in a sale of securities tied to subprime mortgages. The news helped send oil prices down 3%, as traders became anxious about the impact on the economic recovery and future demand.

A stronger dollar also reduced the appeal of crude oil. The currency rose 0.2% higher against the euro to $1.347 amid growing concerns that the ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano eruption will have a long-term adverse impact on international travel and the European economic recovery.

A stronger dollar makes crude, which is denominated in the U.S. currency, more expensive for foreign investors. This, in turn, tends to push down demand and prices.

What analysts are saying: Oil prices had been dipping ahead of the Goldman case as many skeptical oil traders began to sell in an overheated market, but the charges gave traders the fodder they needed to sell more, according to analysts at The Schork Group.

"Traders were already decreasing their net length [positions] in crude oil," said The Schork Group in a Monday research note.

Before the recent sell-off, a runup in prices was supported by strong retail sales and other economic data, but demand levels still did not justify the spike. Last week's crude inventory report from the Energy Information Administration surprised investors with the first drop in crude oil supplies in 10 weeks.

Goldman Sachs' woes could help to keep oil prices in check ahead of the summer driving season.

"The allegations against Goldman Sachs could be the nudge required to push the market into a severe correction in the short term," said The Schork Group.

Looking ahead: The week will be relatively quiet in terms of economic reports. Traders will be looking at the weekly initial jobless claims and crude inventory reports.

They will also be keeping a close watch on new developments around the Icelandic volcanic eruption and international travel. To top of page

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