Europe anxiety pushes oil prices lower

By CHRIS KAHN | December 15, 2011 | 12:00 PM EST

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices continue to drop after Wednesday's 5 percent plunge, as Europe's weakest economies failed to get more help from their central bank.

Benchmark crude on Thursday fell 74 cents to $94.21 per barrel in New York. Brent crude lost 4 cents at $104.21 a barrel in London.

Investors hoped that the European Central Bank would take a bigger role in aiding heavily indebted countries like Greece, Italy and Spain. But the ECB has given no indication that it will do so.

Without more support those countries will be forced to make more spending cuts. That will further reduce energy demand and slow imports of manufactured goods from the U.S., China and elsewhere.

In the U.S., retail gasoline prices fell to a national average of $3.259 per gallon.