Crude oil fell to the lowest level of the year today after weekend elections in France and Greece fueled uncertainty about the region’s prospects for recovery, the Associated Press reported.
Benchmark US crude fell 55 cents to close at $97.94 per barrel in New York, after falling as low as $95.34 earlier in the session.
Prices have now fallen for four straight sessions, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
"The bears are in control and I don't think we're done yet," Tom Bentz, director at BNP Paribas Prime Brokerage in New York, told Dow.
The win by Socialist candidate Francois Hollande in the French presidential election and the lack of a clear winner in debt-ridden Greece has eroded confidence in the region’s ability to push ahead with austerity measures seen as crucial to deal with the ongoing financial crisis and revive economic growth.
"This is not just a European problem," independent analyst and trader Stephen Schork was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.
Oil prices have been falling for days partly due to concerns about the European debt crisis, which is hurting economic growth in the 17-nation euro zone and dampening demand for products made by manufacturers in China and the United States.
But other factors weighing on crude prices include increased OPEC output and rising US inventories, Reuters said.
Oil prices dropped 4 percent on Friday for a weekly loss of 6.1 percent, MarketWatch noted.
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