NYMEX crude dives
December 19, 2006 3:58am CST
US crude futures ended down more than $2 on Monday as investors feared recent high prices could slow economic growth and as China said it would make its currency more responsive to market forces. Crude for June delivery settled down $2.63 at $69.41 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, June Brent crude shed $2.65 to $69.67 a barrel. NYMEX June gasoline fell 12.45 cents to $2.054 per gallon, while June heating oil lost 10.17 cents to $1.945 a gallon. China said on Monday that it would press ahead with reform of its currency regime with the aim of making the yuan more responsive to market forces. The commitment coincided with the yuan's briefly strengthening beyond 8 per dollar for the first time since the central bank revalued it by 2.1 percent and freed it from a dollar peg last July. "With the Chinese being more flexible with their currency, the assumption is that will slow their manufacturing a tad," said Phil Flynn, analyst at Alaron Trading in Chicago. "Oil is getting whacked today. If we close below $70, we could get down to the mid $60s later in the week." The oil minister for Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, said on Monday high oil prices lead consumers to think twice before they spend. "In general, when prices are high, people check their pockets," Ali al-Naimi said. "When they are lower, they open them."