NEW YORK (AP) - Oil prices tumbled nearly 4 percent on Thursday, dropping below $99 a barrel on growing fears about the future of the European Union and the global economy.
The 17-nation currency bloc has struggled to deal with massive government debts across Europe that could lead to widespread bank failures. As nations slash spending to get their budgets under control, energy demand in the region is expected to plunge.
Benchmark crude fell $3.77, or 3.7 percent, to end the day at $98.82 a barrel in New York. Thursday's drop was a sharp turnaround from Wednesday, when oil crossed the $100 mark for the first time since July.
In other energy trading, natural gas prices rose 6.6 cents to end at $3.41 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil fell 5.14 cents to finish at $3.0832 per gallon and gasoline futures dropped 12 cents, or 4.6 percent, to end at $2.5071 per gallon.
Brent crude, which is used to price oil produced in foreign countries, fell $3.42, or 3 percent, to finish at $108.09 a barrel in London.