Crude oil futures fell to their lowest level since mid December on Monday as markets becomes increasingly anxious about Greece’s debt crisis and as China took further steps to avoid a sharp landing in the next few years.
Crude oil for June delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange settled down $1.35 at $94.78 a barrel, the weakest level since December 19 2011.
Political turmoil in Greece reduced risk appetite and increased demand for the dollar, making crude more expensive for holders of other currencies. Greece’s leaders are expected to meet again Tuesday for further talks as the nation struggles to form a coalition government.
Crude was also pressured by China’s move at the weekend to reduce its reserve requirement ratio for the third time in six months. Concern about a slowdown in demand for oil from such a big oil consumer rippled through global markets on Monday.
Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali al-Naimi’s comment that oil prices were too high and that European benchmark Brent crude should trade at $100 a barrel also prompted traders to reduce to their positions.
Among precious metals gold futures tumbled to their lowest level in four months as nervous investors turned to the dollar’s safe haven attributes.
Gold for June delivery declined $23 to settle at $1,561 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Silver for July lost 54 cents to $28.35 an ounce while copper for July delivery pulled back 9 cents to $3.55 a pound.