LONDON – The price of oil fell to below $83 a barrel on Friday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave no hint that the central bank is planning stimulus measures to revive a faltering recovery.
Benchmark oil for July delivery was down $2.56 to $82.26 per barrel by midday European time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 20 cents to settle at $84.82 in New York on Thursday.
In London, Brent crude for July delivery was down $2.10 at $97.83 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
Bernanke told Congress on Thursday that the Fed is ready to act if the financial crisis in Europe threatens the U.S. economy. But he didn't indicate that any new steps were on the way.
Some analysts expect policymakers won't sharply loosen monetary policy until the global economy and crude demand are weaker.
"There have been no 'game changers' this week," said Julian Jessop, chief global economist for Capital Economics. "The prices of commodities should end the year much lower than they are now."
Crude dropped from $106 early last month to below $82 on Monday amid investor concern that signs of slowing economic growth in Europe, the U.S. and China will undermine oil demand. Political turmoil in Greece and fears that country may leave the euro common currency also hurt investor confidence.
Barclays said crude will likely trade sideways for the next few weeks now that a gloomier global economic outlook has been factored in.
In other energy trading, heating oil was down 3.9 cents to $2.63 per gallon while gasoline futures fell 5.5 cents to $2.63 per gallon. Natural gas slid 1.3 cents to $2.26 per 1,000 cubic feet.