Oil Price Drops Below $98 Per Barrel

By CHRIS KAHN | November 14, 2011 | 12:05 PM EST

In ths Nov. 13, 2011 photo, a gasoline tanker makes a delivery at a Sheetz Mini-Mart, in Altoona, Pa. Oil prices slipped below $98 a barrel Monday, Nov. 14, 2011, as markets remained cautious about the ability of new leadership in Greece and Italy to manage the countries' financial crisis. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices are sliding as investors continue to worry about Europe's debt problems.

Benchmark crude fell $1.23 to $97.76 per barrel in New York on Monday, while Brent crude lost $1.82 at $112.34 per barrel in London.

The European debt crisis has yanked oil prices up and down, as traders assess whether massive debt burdens in Greece and Italy will mean bank failures and perhaps another recession. An economic slowdown across the region would mean weaker demand for oil. Both countries have named economists as prime ministers, hoping they will shepherd them from the brink of default.

In the U.S., retail gasoline prices fell half a cent Monday to a national average of about $3.42 per gallon.