Oil Falls to Near $89 Amid Europe, China Jitters

By the Associated Press | July 23, 2012 | 7:36 AM EDT

FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009 file photo, crew members with Anadarko Petroleum Corp., work on a drilling platform on a Weld County farm near Mead, Colo., in the northeastern part of the state. The state has endured a wide-ranging recession and a slow, uneven recovery. An oil and gas boom has brought new dollars and jobs to the northeast part of Colorado, but natural gas producers grapple with low prices on the Western Slope. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)

LONDON (AP) — The price of oil sank toward $89 a barrel Monday as a flare-up in Europe's debt crisis and concern over Chinese economic growth suggested demand for crude will weaken.

The benchmark crude futures contract for September delivery was down $2.55 at $89.28 a barrel by late morning European time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The August contract, which expired Friday, ended down $1.22 at $91.44 per barrel in New York.

Brent crude was down $2.76 at $104.07 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London.

European financial markets were battered as the government borrowing rates of Spain and Italy rose sharply Monday on fears they will eventually need sovereign bailouts. Spain's key 10-year borrowing rate neared 7.5 percent, a level considered unsustainable for more than a few months.

Europe's lengthy battle with a massive government debt crisis has pushed about a third of the 17 euro countries into recession, cutting demand for oil and other energy products. It has also taken a toll on industries in other countries such as the U.S. and China.

On Friday, Spain's government predicted its recession will extend into next year and the region of Valencia said it needed help from the central government to pay its bills. In Germany, finance officials said growth in Europe's strongest economy likely slowed in the second quarter.

The already dim global economic outlook was further clouded by weekend reports that an adviser to China's central bank predicted the world's second largest economy could slow further in the third quarter. Economic growth in the world's No. 2 crude consumer slowed to a three-year low of 7.6 percent in the second quarter as foreign demand for Chinese exports weakened and measures to control inflation crimped activity.

In other energy trading, gasoline was down 6.8 cents at $2.88 a gallon and heating oil fell 7.1 cents to $2.85 a gallon. Natural gas was down 3.1 cents at $3.05 per 1,000 cubic feet.