The oil market cooled off this week, following some lofty gains.
Oil fell 79 cents to close at $104.70 Friday in New York. For the week, the price of oil fell $3.35, or 3.1 percent, the first weekly decline since mid-June.
Drivers saw a bit of relief. The average price of gasoline fell 2 cents over the past week, to $3.65 a gallon. That’s still 11 cents higher than a month ago.
China, a major energy consumer, played a big role in this week’s decline in the price of oil. Traders were concerned over the country’s decision to press ahead with painful economic restructuring and forgo another round of stimulus even though growth has slowed.
Oil is still up $11, or 12 percent, since June 21, when it fell to $93.69. It broke above $100 on July 3 for the first time since May 2012, and peaked at slightly more than $109 on July 19. The rise was mostly due to falling U.S. crude stockpiles and increased interest from financial investors.
Oil’s rise pushed up pump prices. Starting on July 8, the average price for a gallon of gas rose for 11 straight days, going from $3.47 to $3.67, before leveling off. At $3.65, the price is still 16 cents higher than at this time last year.
According to the price-search service GasBuddy, four states have average prices above $4 a gallon: Hawaii, Alaska, Connecticut and California. At this time last year, only Hawaii topped $4.
At the low end, six states have average prices below $3.50: Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina, the lowest in the nation at $3.33.
In London, Brent crude, which is traded on the ICE Futures exchange, fell 48 cents to $107.17 a barrel.
In other trading on the Nymex:
- Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $3.04 a gallon.
- Heating oil fell 3 cents to $3.01 a gallon.
- Natural gas shed 9 cents to $3.56 per 1,000 cubic feet.